World markets lose steam as S&P backs off record

The Associated Press
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People walk past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Asian stock markets pushed higher Wednesday on signs of a pickup in the U.S. economy and expectations of further stimulus in Japan. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closed at 14,946.32, after gaining 154.33 points, or 1.04 percent. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

LONDON (AP) — World stock markets lost momentum on Thursday as the S&P index in the U.S. backed off its record highs and the European Central Bank opted against loosening its monetary policies further.

The Standard & Poor's 500 closed at an all-time high the day before, but edged down on Thursday, as investors became cautious ahead of a government jobs report on Friday.

The report is a key market mover and is this month expected to show the economy added about 200,000 jobs in March. That would be the biggest gain since November.

In Europe, sentiment was mixed after the ECB did not cut interest rates or announce any new stimulus measures, as some had been hoping. It did, however, say it was ready to act if inflation remained low.

Germany's DAX closed almost 0.1 percent higher at 9,628.82 while France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent to 4,449.33. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.2 percent to 6,649.14.

The euro declined on the ECB's warning that it stands ready to loosen its policies if needed, dropping 0.4 percent to $1.3717.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones was down 0.1 percent at 16,553 while the S&P 500 dropped 0.3 percent.

Earlier, in Asia, markets were slightly more upbeat after China's State Council, or cabinet, pledged Wednesday to do more to support companies, expand consumer demand and create jobs.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.8 percent.

But Shanghai's Composite Index fell 0.7 percent to 2,043.70, weighed by worries over tightening liquidity and South Korea's Kospi gave up early gains to edge 0.2 percent lower.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 103.92 yen from 103.87 yen the day before.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was up 42 cents at $100.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.