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Apr 28, 2015 6:01 AM

Global markets lower ahead of major earnings, Fed meeting

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Global stock markets were dented Tuesday by downbeat economic data from Europe ahead of major earnings reports and the Federal Reserve's policy meeting.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.8 percent to 7,049.37 and Germany's DAX declined 0.7 percent to 11,955.50. France's CAC 40 sank 1 percent to 5,217.49. Wall Street was set to extend losses, with S&P 500 futures down 0.3 percent and Dow futures 0.2 percent lower.

BRITISH GDP: Britain's economic growth slowed to a quarterly rate of 0.3 percent in the first three months of this year, the Office of National Statistics said. The figure represents a slowdown from 0.6 percent growth in the last quarter of 2014. The U.K. statistics agency said output decreased in construction, production and agriculture and growth slowed in service industries.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 outperformed the region, gaining 0.4 percent to 20,058.95. Other markets were weaker with Hong Kong's Hang Seng flat at 28,442.75. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.5 percent to 2,147.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 5,948.50. Stocks in mainland China and Southeast Asia were weaker.

EARNINGS: Investors are waiting for an update on the health of corporate Asia with major tech and auto companies expected to report quarterly financial results this week, including Samsung, LG and Sony. Honda Motor Co. reported Tuesday that its profit dropped 43 percent as the costs of air bag recalls offset the positives of a weak yen and strong vehicle sales in Asia. Shares of the Japanese automaker rose 0.3 percent before the earnings release.

FED WATCH: Investors are looking ahead to Wednesday when the Federal Reserve ends a two-day meeting at which policymakers will discuss when to raise a key interest rate that has been held near zero for 6 years. After its March meeting, the Fed opened the door to a rate increase this year by no longer saying it would be "patient" in starting to raise its benchmark rate. But weak economic data recently might complicate that picture.

THE QUOTE: "The Fed will have to acknowledge the weaker data of late when it meets tomorrow," DBS Bank said in a daily report. "It will be hard to blame either on dock strikes or the weather, given that payrolls dipped in March and capex has been falling since August."

US DATA: The Conference Board releases its April index on U.S. consumer confidence on Tuesday. In March, an improving job market drove U.S. consumer confidence higher after a dip in February, a promising sign for the economy as it heads into spring. The U.S. government also releases its estimate of economic growth in the January-March quarter. Gross domestic product is expected to have risen 1 percent, down from 2.2 percent in the previous quarter.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 41 cents to $56.58 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 16 cents to close at $56.99 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 20 cents to $64.63 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 118.96 yen from 119.12 yen in the previous global trading session. The euro rose to $1.0918 from $1.0876.


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