Markets drift despite earlier advance in Asia

The Associated Press
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A man watches an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Asian stock markets rose after Wall Street indexes hit record highs, with Japan's Nikkei 225 leading gains as the yen weakened. The Nikkei ended up 275.92 points at 14,425.44 on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

LONDON (AP) — Markets were in drift mode Wednesday as investors consolidated following a strong run, particularly on Wall Street.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and the broader S&P 500 index have struck a series of all-time highs as sentiment has turned positive following a solid first-quarter corporate earnings season and generally upbeat U.S. economic data. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 actually breached the 1,900 mark for the first time ever.

Other markets around the world have largely followed in the U.S.'s slipstream. On Wednesday, amid a dearth of drivers, trading in the U.S. was flat — the Dow Jones was down 0.4 percent at 16,652 while the S&P fell 0.2 percent to 1,893.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.1 percent at 6,878.49 while Germany's DAX ended flat at 9,754.39. The CAC-40 in France fell 0.1 percent to 4,501.

"A general absence of major news in the U.S. left markets without a reason to capitalize on yesterday's record closes for the Dow and S&P 500, but the advantage now clearly lies with the bulls," said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG.

In the currency markets, the euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.3717 as investors awaited Thursday figures over the state of the 18-country eurozone economy. The quarterly growth is expected to have doubled in the first three months of the year to 0.4 percent.

Earlier in Asia, most stock markets were largely buoyed by the boost to sentiment provided by Wall Street's performance. South Korea's Kospi added 1.4 percent to 2,010.83 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 1 percent to 22,582.77.

Elsewhere, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.1 percent to 14,405.76 after a 2 percent jump the day before on a weaker yen and mainland China's bellwether Shanghai Composite Index fell on recent weak economic data.