Global stocks lackluster ahead of revised US growth figures

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks were lackluster Friday after Japan reported mixed economic data and investors waited for revised U.S. growth figures.

KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, France's CAC-40 was little changed at 4,911.03 and Germany's DAX gained 0.05 percent to 11,332.45. Britain's FTSE 100 was steady at 6,949.04. Wall Street gave no indication of major moves in store. The future for the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.04 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 futures contract fell 0.1 percent. The previous day, the Dow shed 0.1 percent and the S&P lost 0.3 percent. The Nasdaq gained 0.4 percent.

US ECONOMY: The Commerce Department issues its second of three estimates of how fast the U.S. economy grew in the October-December quarter. In its first estimate, the government said gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual rate. That was slower than the previous quarter, but a burst in consumer spending bolstered confidence that growth will strengthen this year.

JAPAN SIGNALS: Industrial output in the world's third-largest economy behind China and the U.S. jumped by 4 percent month-on-month in January compared with December's 0.8 percent rise, government data showed. That raises production to levels recorded ahead of last year's sales tax hike, which crimped consumer spending. At the same time, retail spending fell 1.3 percent month-on-month. That weakness adds to pressure on the Bank of Japan to roll out new stimulus measures, according to Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics.

THE QUOTE: "Stimulus seems to be working a treat for some of the key markets around the world, including Japan and the Eurozone," said IG strategist Stan Shamu in a commentary. "Recent data out of Europe has also been showing some positive signs and this has really encouraged investors to drive equities higher."

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent to 3,310.30 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent to 18,797.94. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.4 percent to 1,985.80 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.3 percent at 24,823.29. India's Sensex gained 1.4 percent to 29,145.22. Sydney and New Zealand gained while Singapore and Bangkok declined.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up $1.18 at $49.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the contract shed 60 cents to close at $48.17. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added $1.26 to $60.72 after giving up 46 cents on Thursday to $60.05.

CURRENCIES: The dollar gained to 119.31 yen from Thursday's 119.24 yen. The euro rose to $1.1224 from $1.1209.