TOKYO – Global stocks were mixed on Thursday as investors digested a raft of corporate earnings results and the Federal Reserve's decision to pause its slow-moving campaign to raise interest rates.
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KEEPING SCORE: European markets lost early gains, with the CAC 40 of France flat at 5,188 and Britain's FTSE 100 down 0.1 percent at 7,444. Germany's DAX slipped 0.7 percent to 12,222. Dow and S&P 500 futures pointed to a positive start on Wall Street, with both up 0.1 percent.
FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve's meeting Wednesday ended with officials saying it may begin paring the massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet it built up following the financial crisis "relatively soon," which some analysts took to mean September. The Fed also said that inflation will likely remain below its target of 2 percent in the near term.
EARNINGS: Company quarterly reports were on the whole upbeat. Despite the arrest of its chief in a corruption scandal and the recalls and discontinuation of fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, Samsung Electronics reported record high quarterly earnings thanks to booming demand for memory chips. Germany's Volkswagen saw a doubling in its profit, largely putting the costs of its diesel scandal behind it. But drugmaker AstraZeneca saw its shares slide 15 percent after disclosing that a key cancer drug trial had disappointed. Other companies that did well included Fiat Chrysler, AB Inbev and Southwest Airlines, while Deutsche Bank, Nokia and Nestle were more downbeat.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.2 percent to 20,079.64 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.7 percent to 27,131.17. South Korea's Kospi added 0.4 percent to 2,443.24 and the S&P ASX 200 of Australia climbed 0.2 percent to 5,785.00. Taiwan's index climbed 0.9 percent after electronics maker Foxconn announced a $10 billion investment in Wisconsin that is expected to create 3,000 jobs. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1 percent higher to 3,249.78. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell back after topping $48 per barrel for the first time in seven weeks overnight. It slipped 38 cents to $48.37 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after surging 86 cents to $48.75 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 35 cents to $50.62 per barrel.
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CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 111.44 Japanese yen from 111.17 yen on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1692 from $1.1637, and the British pound rose to $1.3138 from $1.3117.
AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed from New York.