World shares mostly higher after weak 2Q GDP for China




A woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in Hong Kong, Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Shares advanced in Asia on Tuesday after another wobbly day on Wall Street extended a losing streak for markets. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

BANGKOK (AP) — European shares opened higher Friday after a mixed session in Asia following a report that China’s economy contracted by 2.6% in the last quarter due to virus shutdowns that kept businesses closed and people at home.

Stocks in Hong Kong and Shanghai fell while most other benchmarks advanced. U.S. futures were little changed and oil prices were mixed.

Official data showed the Chinese economy shrank by 2.6% compared with the January-March period’s already weak quarter-on-quarter rate of 1.4%. Compared with a year earlier, which can hide recent fluctuations, growth slid to a weak 0.4% from the earlier quarter’s 4.8%.

Anti-virus controls shut down Shanghai, site of the world’s busiest port, and other manufacturing centers starting in late March, fueling concerns global trade and manufacturing might be disrupted. Millions of families were confined to their homes, depressing consumer spending.

More outbreaks this week in China and elsewhere in Asia have raised worries that COVID-19 controls might be restored, on top of existing precautions.

Germany’s DAX gained 1.5% to 12,706.96 while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.6% to 5,950.63. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.9% to 7,104.57. The futures for the S&P 500 and Dow industrials were barely changed, gaining less than 0.1%.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.5% to 26,788.47. The Kospi in Seoul was up 0.4% at 2,330.98 and shares also rose in India and Taiwan.

The Shanghai Composite index lost 1.6% to 3,228.06. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.7% to 6,605.60 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 2.2% to 20,297.72.

On Thursday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.3% with nearly early three out of every four stocks in the benchmark index ending in the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5%, while the Nasdaq rose less than 0.1%.

The Russell 2000 of small company stocks fell 1.1%.

Wall Street has been assessing the latest government reports showing that inflation remains hot and shows no signs of cooling, even as central banks try to loosen its grip on businesses and consumers by hiking interest rates.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve’s fight against it remain key concerns for investors. Inflation at the wholesale level climbed 11.3% in June compared with a year earlier. It is the latest painful reminder that inflation is running hot, following a report on Wednesday that showed prices at the consumer level were 9.1% higher last month than a year earlier.

Pervasive inflation has been squeezing businesses and consumers for months and the Federal Reserve has moved aggressively to try to bring prices down by raising interest rates. That has raised concerns that it could go too far and actually cause a recession.

But markets have been bracing for this for months, buying on dips and looking for silver linings.

“Within the gloom, buyers are attempting to seek for some pockets of optimism. Guidance for economic conditions from the major U.S. banks point towards an impending slowdown, but it came with some downplaying of risks of a severe U.S. recession with strength in consumer spending and labor market,” Jun Rong Yeap of IG said in a report.

Investors are will get a clearer picture in the coming weeks about how badly inflation is hurting companies. Several more U.S. banks are on deck to report earnings Friday, including Citigroup and Wells Fargo, along with insurer UnitedHealth Group.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 24 cents to $96.02 a barrel. It lost 52 cents to $95.78 a barrel on Thursday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, added 73 cents to $99.83 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 138.84 Japanese yen from 138.94 yen. Rising U.S. interest rates have continued to push the dollar higher against other major currencies in countries where rates have not risen or have lagged the hikes by the Fed.

The euro rose to $1.0036 from $1.0020.