Global Markets: Stocks little changed amid China, trade worries; pound stabilizes
By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Concern over China's economic outlook and global trade left major world stock indexes little changed on Thursday, while an end to the latest chapter in Britain's exit from the European Union helped to stabilize sterling. Disappointing earnings in the U.S.
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Concern over China's economic outlook and global trade left major world stock indexes little changed on Thursday, while an end to the latest chapter in Britain's exit from the European Union helped to stabilize sterling.
Disappointing earnings in the U.S. from Morgan Stanley, hot on the heels of similarly weak numbers from JP Morgan Chase earlier in the week, hurt sentiment on Wall Street. Morgan Stanley shares slumped more than 5 percent.
Gains in U.S. healthcare and consumer discretionary shares offset the losses, leaving the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 equity index nearly flat.
Investors have been worried, too, that the U.S. government shutdown was starting to take a toll on the U.S. economy. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the shutdown would shave 0.13 percent off quarterly economic growth for each week that it continues.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.31 points, or 0.11 percent, to 24,179.85, the S&P 500 gained 3.06 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,619.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.39 points, or 0.13 percent, to 7,044.08.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.08 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.03 percent.
Some investors took heart from Beijing's confirmation that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will head to the United States on Jan. 30 for more negotiations with Washington. Recent talks to resolve a protracted trade battle between the U.S. and China brought little progress.
Adding to recent worries was news that U.S. lawmakers introduced bills on Wednesday that would ban the sale of U.S. chips or other components to Huawei or other Chinese telecoms firms that violate U.S. sanctions or export control laws.
"Concerns about trade policy have been simmering there for a while," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
That came shortly before the Wall Street Journal reported federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from U.S. businesses.
European banks tumbled after France's Societe Generale issued a profit warning, and carmakers skidded after U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said he thought President Donald Trump was "inclined" to impose tariffs on European cars.
Sterling firmed towards a two-month high against the dollar. It was trading 0.3 percent up at $1.292, inching towards a mid-November high of $1.293.
As expected, British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly won a confidence vote overnight and invited other party leaders for talks to try to break the impasse on a Brexit agreement.
An outline for Plan B https://reut.rs/2TVKYfe is due by next Monday and markets are currently assuming that with no easy way forward for May she will have to extend the date of Britain's exit from the European Union past the scheduled March 29.
U.S. Treasury yields ticked up as better-than-expected economic data offset the trade tensions between China and the United States, holding down safe-haven bids for U.S. government debt.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 2.7378 percent, from 2.729 percent late on Wednesday.
Oil prices fell after U.S. crude production neared an unprecedented 12 million barrels per day (bpd).
Brent crude was last down $0.82, or 1.34 percent, at $60.5 a barrel. U.S. crude was last down $1.22, or 2.33 percent, at $51.09 per barrel.
(Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London, Wayne Cole in Sydney and Medha Singh; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.