LONDON (AP) — The positive momentum that has gripped stock markets this week slowly ground to a halt Tuesday as Europe's bourses drifted after some weak German economic data following earlier advances in Asia.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent to 6,625 while Germany's DAX fell 0.6 percent to 9,123. France's CAC 40 fell 0.6 percent to 4,173. U.S. markets were poised for a flat opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent. On Monday, stock markets all around the world had one of their best sessions in weeks as geopolitical tensions, mainly stemming from Ukraine, eased.
GERMAN ECONOMIC WORRIES: Ahead of Thursday's first estimate of economic growth across the 18-country eurozone economy, a report on German business confidence provided further evidence that Europe's largest economy has slowed down in recent months. Germany's ZEW indicator of confidence among professional investment analysts sagged to a 20-month low in August. Fears about a possible escalation of the crisis in Ukraine have weighed on Germany business confidence in recent weeks. The euro drifted lower after the ZEW survey, trading 0.3 percent down on the day at $1.3343.
ANALYST TAKE: "The disappointing showing in some European indices today can partially be attributed to some profit taking following the strong start to the week, while the disappointing ZEW figures will also be contributing to the decline," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.
UKRAINE TENSIONS REMAIN: Though fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine have subsided over recent days, geopolitical factors are likely to remain one of the key drivers in financial markets over the coming weeks. Ukraine remains a key pre-occupation and on Tuesday investors were reminded about the fragile nature of the situation on the ground when a convoy of 280 Russian trucks reportedly packed with aid headed for eastern Ukraine was denied entry because Ukraine said it not been certified by the Red Cross and could be a covert military operation.
IRAQ UNCERTAINTY PERSISTS: As well as monitoring the situation in Ukraine, investors are keeping one eye on Iraq. On Tuesday, Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared more isolated as he pressed his battle to remain in power while Iraqi politicians and the international community rallied behind a Shiite premier-designate who could be a more unifying figure, badly needed if the nation is to confront a spreading Sunni insurgency.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent to 15,161.31 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 percent to 2,041.47. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.3 percent to 5,530.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent to 24,689.41 but China's Shanghai Composite dipped 0.1 percent to 2,221.59.
ENERGY: Oil prices drifted lower, with the benchmark New York rate down 74 cents at $97.34 a barrel.