World Stocks Up Tepidly as Traders Brush Off Woes
BANGKOK (AP) - Asian stocks struggled for firm footing Friday as investor nerves were tested by fizzling economic growth in China, but European markets headed higher as traders kept fingers crossed that Greece would avoid financial chaos.
Italian Premier Mario Monti’s comment Thursday that Greece was likely to stay in the euro currency union helped buoy Europe markets, said Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne in an email. But he added that "perhaps we are just really tired of hearing how bad things are and just needed something to uplift."
In any event, European markets headed higher. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 5,376.35. Germany’s DAX rose 1.1 percent to 6,384.10 and France’s CAC-40 added 0.9 percent to 3,064.09.
Wall Street appeared set for a higher open, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.2 percent to 12,558 and S&P 500 futures gaining 0.3 percent to 1,326.20.
Earlier in Asia, however, gains were stanched by media reports that some of China’s biggest banks will miss their annual lending targets for the first time in seven years, analysts said. Hesitation to take out loans suggests companies are delaying investment due to uncertainty about the economic outlook.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 8,580.39. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.3 percent to 18,713.41 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,824.17.
But Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.7 percent to 4,029.20. Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and New Zealand also fell.
Chinese economic growth fell to a nearly three-year low of 8.1 percent in the first quarter and factory output in April grew at its slowest pace since the 2008 crisis, raising the threat of job losses and possible political tensions.
On Thursday, a private survey of Chinese manufacturers showed activity weakened further in May.
Peng Yunliang, a Shanghai-based analyst, said the reading was "worse than expected and contributed to the loss" among mainland Chinese shares. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7 percent to 2,333.55 while the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.2 percent to 935.05.