Global stock markets slipped on Wednesday on weaker Chinese trade figures, while investors monitored U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Asia, where he delivered a fresh warning to North Korea.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent to 13,372 and France's CAC 40 dropped 0.2 percent to 5,467. London's FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent to 7,506. On Wall Street, futures for the Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average were both down 0.1 percent.
CHINA TRADE: China reported its exports rose 6.9 percent to $188.9 billion, a decline from September's 8.1 percent growth. Imports rose 17.2 percent to $150.9 billion, down from the previous month's 18.7 percent increase. The politically volatile trade surplus with the United States was $26.6 billion, a decline of $1.5 billion from September but a 12.2 percent increase from a year earlier.
SNAP INTEREST: Shares in Snap Inc., which had fallen 20 percent before the opening bell on poor earnings, cut those losses in half on news that Chinese internet company Tencent bought a 10 percent stake. Tencent runs the WeChat messaging app, as well as online payment platforms and games.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1 percent to 22,913.82 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 0.3 percent to 28,907.60. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 2 points to 3,415.46 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 2 points to 6,116.30. Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.3 percent to 2,552.40 and India's Sensex edged up 14 points to 33,383.74.
TRUMP WATCH: Trump arrived in Beijing on a two-day visit with trade high on his agenda. The president has said publicly he wants China to narrow its multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States but has yet to say what he might propose to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump is in the middle of a 12-day, multination tour of Asia.
NORTH KOREA: In a speech to South Korean lawmakers before flying to Beijing, Trump warned North Korea, "Do not underestimate us. And do not try us." Pro- and anti-Trump protesters staged rallies in Seoul ahead of his visit, reflecting a public deeply divided along ideological and age lines. Many South Koreans worry Trump's fiery rhetoric on North Korea raises the risk of war that could cost thousands of South Korean lives.
ANALYST COMMENT: "Markets seem unsure which way to go next — equity markets are largely becalmed, FX is mostly directionless, with a few exceptions, and the same too goes for bond markets," Rob Carnell of ING said in a report. "We still wait more progress on the U.S. tax reform bill." He said Trump was acting more diplomatically and "does not appear to have set off any fireworks" in South Korea.
CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 113.49 yen from Tuesday's 113.99 yen. The euro was flat around $1.1588.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 15 cents to $57.05 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 15 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 22 cents to $63.47 in London, having lost 58 cents the previous session.