Oct 23, 2014 7:58 AM

Stocks subdued after business surveys

The Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) World stock markets were subdued Thursday after a survey showed China's factory output grew at the slowest pace in five months and a separate report suggested some improvement in Europe's business activity.

KEEPING SCORE: European markets fluctuated between gains and losses. France's CAC-40 recouped earlier losses to trade flat at 4,107.81 while Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 8,954.34. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent to 6,373.66. Futures indicated gains for Wall Street. Dow futures rose 0.6 percent and S&P 500 futures advanced 0.5 percent.

CHINA FACTORIES: A preliminary reading of China's massive manufacturing industry for October provided mixed messages. HSBC's factory purchasing managers index rose to 50.4 points in October from 50.2 the previous month (figures above 50 indicate expansion) but the output sub-index slipped to a five month low. "While the manufacturing sector likely stabilized in October, the economy continues to show signs of insufficient effective demand," HSBC said.

EUROPE DATA: In Europe, a survey of the manufacturing and services sectors eased some fears that the eurozone may be slipping back into recession. Financial information company Markit says its composite purchasing managers index for the 18-country bloc, a broad gauge of business activity, rose to 52.2 points in October from 52.0 in September. Market expectations were for a small decline.

ASIA'S DAY: In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.4 percent at 15,138.96 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent 23,333.18. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.3 percent to 1,931.65 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped less than 0.1 percent to 5,383.10. China's Shanghai Composite was down 1.0 percent at 2,302.42.

BIG EARNNGS: Later in the day, major U.S. companies such as Microsoft, 3M, Amazon.com, Caterpillar and United Continental will be releasing earnings reports. General Motors earlier posted upbeat figures, saying its third-quarter profit nearly doubled as strong results in North America and China outweighed struggles in Europe and South America. European companies' earnings were mixed, with good results at carmaker Daimler and tech company Nokia offset by weaker figures by retailer Tesco.

ENERGY: Oil prices stabilized, after earlier trading lower on a report from the U.S Energy Department that showed oil inventories grew far more than expected. Benchmark U.S. crude was up 13 cents at $80.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling $1.97 on Wednesday. The slide in energy prices in the past two weeks has raised doubts about the strength of the global economy but also offers some upside in Asia where many countries are reliant on imported fuel.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.2660 from $1.2646 late Wednesday. The dollar jumped to 107.58 yen from 107.16 yen.


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