People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Asian markets were mostly higher Wednesday after a listless day of modest losses on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

World stocks edge lower on growth concerns, Brexit

March 06, 2019 - 7:13 am

BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets mostly turned lower on Wednesday on concerns for global growth and after another round of talks on Britain's exit from the European Union proved inconclusive.

Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent to 11,594 while the CAC40 in France declined 0.1 percent, to 5,290 after the OECD, a watchdog, slashed its forecasts for world growth, especially for Europe. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.2 percent to 7,196, as the falling pound generally lifts the many multinationals listed there.

Shares in New York were poised to open lower, with the future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.2 percent at 25,786. That for the S&P 500 also fell 0.2 percent, to 2,788.

Talks between the EU and Britain ended Tuesday with no agreement. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but its parliament has rejected a plan proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May, raising the prospect of a chaotic, economically damaging departure from the bloc.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.6 percent to 3,102.10 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3 percent to 29,037.60 after officials said China will bar government authorities from demanding overseas companies hand over technology secrets in exchange for market share.

Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the Cabinet's economic planning agency, said the measure would be in a foreign investment law to be presented to the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp legislature.

It addresses complaints that China forces companies to share technology, a key issue in the trade war between the U.S. and China. But it's unclear if such a move would suffice to mollify President Donald Trump's objections to Chinese industrial policy.

Meanwhile, traders are watching for new details on trade talks between the U.S. and China.

"Examining the outlook, the market remains a trade driven one as we await the confirmation and details of the trade deal," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. "Past that, however, the latest set of announcements does affirm the Chinese authorities' willingness to put policy into action to keep the market going."

The U.S. and China have pulled back from an immediate escalation of their damaging trade war since they started negotiating last month. President Donald Trump postponed a deadline for raising tariffs on more Chinese goods, citing progress in a series of talks. Media reports on Monday suggested the nations could strike a deal this month.

ELSEWHERE IN ASIA: Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.6 percent to 21,596.81 as a stronger yen hurt shares of export manufacturers. Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent to 6,245.60, while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,175.60. India's Sensex gained 0.5 percent to 36,636.10. Shares rose in Indonesia and Taiwan but fell in Singapore and Thailand.

ENERGY: U.S. crude lost 41 cents to $56.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up 3 cents to settle at $56.56 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 4 cents to $65.81 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell slightly to 111.86 yen from 111.87 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1304 from $1.1309.

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