SEOUL, South Korea – Global markets were mostly lower Wednesday as the price of oil stabilized and investors focused on geopolitical risks. A global stock benchmark provider's decision to add mainland China-listed shares to its widely followed stock indexes did little to boost markets as the decision was widely expected.
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KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.6 percent to 7,431 and France's CAC 40 sank 0.7 percent to 5,257. Germany's DAX dropped 0.4 percent to 12,761. Futures augured a tepid start on Wall Street. S&P and Dow futures were both roughly flat.
CHINA: Global stock benchmark provider MSCI decided to include 222 large Chinese companies in 2018 to its Emerging Markets index, which is closely followed by fund managers. The move could draw more foreign investment to Chinese firms, but analysts said the decision was not a surprise to investors. South Korea's government forecast little impact on Seoul financial markets. Adding Chinese shares to the MSCI Emerging Markets index will reduce South Korean shares in the index, which could trigger outflows of at most 4.3 trillion won ($3.8 billion) of foreign investment, it said. But that amount can be offset by the huge inflows of foreign investment to Seoul markets this year, according to South Korea's Financial Services Commission.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Chinese authorities have been garnering for this positive decision and this recognition of the country's efforts in opening up the financial market could really encourage more to be done that could lead to greater capital inflows," Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore, said in a daily commentary. But for markets in the region, "the impact may be second-order and likely only be felt in the longer term. In the near-term, the inclusion could really been seen as symbolic at best."
NORTH KOREA: Geopolitical tensions were in focus as President Donald Trump tweeted that China's efforts to pressure North Korea have not worked out. His tweet came one day after the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was returned from North Korea to the U.S. in a coma last week.
ASIA'S DAY: Asian markets finished mostly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 finished 0.5 percent lower at 20,138.79 and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 2,357.53. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.6 percent to 25,694.58 while China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5 percent to 3,156.21. Australia's S&P/ASX slumped 1.6 percent to 5,665.70. Stocks in Taiwan turned up, but in Singapore and other Southeast Asian markets, they were mostly lower.
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OIL: Prices fell before stabilizing ahead of the release of a weekly crude oil inventory by the U.S. Department of Energy later in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude was up 21 cents to $43.72 per barrel on electronic trading in New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 92 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, edged up 18 cents to $46.20 per barrel. It dropped 89 cents the previous day.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.54 yen from 111.46, while the euro strengthened to $1.1150 from $1.1130.