China, US data keep a lid on global stocks

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Lackluster economic data out of China and the U.S. offset a string of positive developments in Europe to keep a lid on global stock markets on Wednesday following a strong run, particularly on Wall Street.

A day after a flurry of pharmaceuticals deals had stoked speculation of another round of frenzied takeover activity, sentiment took a jolt, firstly in China, where a manufacturing survey by HSBC pointed to contractions in new export orders and employment in April. And in the U.S., an extremely weak report showing a monthly 14.5 percent slide in new home sales in March added to the soft tone.

Those developments overshadowed confirmation from the European Union that Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013 — what's left when interest payments are stripped out. There was further good news in Europe with the news that Portugal had easily tapped bond investors for 10-year cash and a survey from financial information company Markit pointing to stronger growth in the 18-country eurozone economy.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.1 percent at 6,674.74 while Germany's DAX fell 0.6 percent to 9,544.19. The CAC-40 in France ended 0.7 percent lower at 4,451.08.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.1 percent 16,490 while the broader S&P 500 index slipped 0.2 percent to 1,876. Disappointing earnings from the likes of Norfolk Southern, Procter & Gamble and Avery Dennison didn't help.

"With shares on Wall Street rallying in each of the last six trading days, the odds for a pullback of some sort is correspondingly increasing each day," said Fawad Razaqzada, an analyst at

Earlier in Asia, trading was fairly mixed, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index rising in the slipstream of the previous day's advance in the U.S. and Europe. It closed 1.1 percent higher to 14,546.27 as export manufacturers' shares advanced on the relative weakness of the yen. The dollar has advanced since the Asian trading session, and was trading 0.3 percent lower at 102.28 yen.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.8 percent to 22,550.95. Shares in mainland China also fell.

In currency markets, the mood was fairly flat with the euro steady at $1.3716, while a barrel of benchmark New York crude was down 12 cents at $101.63.