Dec 3, 2014 8:11 AM

Markets awaiting run of US economic data

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Stock markets in Europe and Wall Street futures traded in fairly narrow ranges Wednesday as investors awaited a raft of economic data out of the U.S.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France's CAC 40 fell 0.1 percent to 4,385 while Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 9,957. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent at 6,728. U.S. shares were poised to open flat, with Dow and S&P 500 futures more or less unchanged.

EUROZONE RECESSION WARNING: A day ahead of the European Central Bank's final policy meeting of the year, a closely watched survey indicated Wednesday that the 18-country eurozone is not far from sliding back into recession. Financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers' index, a broad gauge of activity across the manufacturing and services sectors, slipped a full point to a 16-month low of 51.1 in November. Though above the 50 threshold that indicates expansion, growth is muted.

US MOVES INTO FOCUS: Investors are awaiting monthly reports due later in the day that will give the latest update on the world's No. 1 economy, including a survey of payrolls by private employers by ADP. The figures could help steer expectations over Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for November the data often set the market tone for a week or two after their release.

ANALYST TAKE: "The markets see the ADP data as giving a good guide to Friday's U.S. jobs report," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended 0.3 percent higher at 17,720.43 after surging more than 1 percent earlier in the day to briefly touch the highest level since mid-2007. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2 percent to 1,969.91 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1 percent to 23,428.62. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 0.6 percent to 2,779.53 after surging as much as 2 percent earlier.

CHINA SERVICES: Shanghai shares jumped in early trading after two monthly surveys showed that activity in the No. 2 economy's service industries edged higher. The results of an official purchasing managers' index and a similar one by HSBC, which showed that new orders rose at their fastest in two and half years, were encouraging signs after a recent string of downbeat data.

YEN SLUMP: The Nikkei's rise comes as the Japanese currency falls to its lowest in seven years, with the latest catalyst coming in the form of a downgrade by ratings service Moody's to the government's credit rating. The dollar strengthened to 119.40 yen from 119.22 yen in late trading Tuesday. The weakening yen, driven by the government's monetary easing aimed at stimulating the economy, is good for the nation's big exporters such as Toyota and Canon because it makes their cars and electronics cheaper overseas.

ENERGY: Oil prices were steady with benchmark U.S. crude 8 cents higher at $66.96 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price internationally, rose 8 cents to $70.62 on the ICE Exchange in London.


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