European shares drifted lower after a directionless day in Asia as traders awaited the final passage of the Republican-backed U.S. tax bill and pondered how much longer the Wall Street bull could run.
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U.S. market futures pointed to a stronger open in New York.
KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 dipped 0.2 percent to 5,374.49 in early afternoon trading Europe time, while Germany's DAX was off 0.2 percent to 13,188.76. Britain's FTSE fell 0.3 percent to 7,543.82. U.S. shares were set to drift higher. Dow futures were up 0.4 percent at 24,864 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 2,692.75.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent to finish at 22,891.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained nearly 0.1 percent to 6,075.60. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.3 percent to 2,472.37. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 29,234.09, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.3 percent to 3,287.61.
US TAXES: Investors like the proposed tax cut pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump because it would boost corporate profits and likely raise stock prices along with it. The bill, set for a final vote in the House later in the day, would initially cut taxes for most Americans, but by 2027 would increase tax bills for most.
THE QUOTE: "With equity markets having risen more than 25 percent since Trump's election victory, at least in part due to his tax reform plans, it's likely that this is almost entirely priced in at this point," wrote Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "So it will be interesting to see whether the rally can now be maintained until the end of the year, or whether the Santa rally will instead grind to a premature halt as investors lock in some profits."
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 19 cents to $57.75 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 59 cents to $63.82 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.16 yen from 112.58 yen late Tuesday in Asia. The euro rose against the dollar to $1.1845 from $1.1811.