World stocks struggle after mixed economic reports
Hong Kong • World stock struggled on Friday after reports showed growth was weak in U.S. consumer spending and Chinese industrial profits, casting doubts on how strongly the world’s two biggest economies can rebound.
After Asian indexes closed lower, European stocks failed to make much headway. France’s CAC 40 was flat at 4,441.54 while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.1 percent to 9,818.61. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies rose 0.2 percent to 6,748.47.
U.S. stocks were poised to open lower ahead of the release of the widely watched University of Michigan consumer confidence index for June. Dow futures eased 0.2 percent to 16,727 while the S&P 500’s futures slipped 0.3 percent to 1,943.75.
Market sentiment took a hit after a report on Thursday showed U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, inched up in May at half the rate that economists had predicted. The poor reading disappointed investors who had been looking for stronger signs that the U.S. economy is bouncing back after shrinking 2.9 percent in the first quarter. Many had been predicting the contraction was a blip because of a harsh winter.
"The whole world is looking for a big (U.S.) GDP rebound in the second quarter. The whole world is likely to be disappointed," economists at Singaporean bank DBS said in a research report.
Adding to the pessimism, Chinese industrial profits grew 8.9 percent in May, the slowest rate this year, a sign that the No. 2 economy continues to struggle with an extended slowdown.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.4 percent to close at 15,095.00 while South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 percent to end at 1,988.51.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng pulled back losses to edge up 0.1 percent to 23,221.52 while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China lost 0.1 percent to 2,036.51. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,445.10.
In currencies, the dollar slipped to 101.38 Japanese yen from 101.66 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro rose to $1.3625 from $1.3615.
In energy trading, the price of U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery gained 29 cents to $106.13 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 47 cents on Thursday.