Global stock markets were lackluster Thursday after Wall Street fell and as investors looked ahead to a European Central Bank meeting and U.S. economic data.
KEEPING SCORE: European trading was cautious. The CAC-40 in Paris edged down 0.3 percent to 4,407.05. Britain's FTSE 100 was also starting out lower, down 0.2 percent at 6,883.59. Germany's DAX shed 0.5 percent to 9,582.23.
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ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent to 15,676.18 while South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,056.26. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed, inching up 0.01 percent to 25,321.11. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly down, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent to 2,306.86.
SAMSUNG SHINES: Shares of Samsung Electronics rose 2 percent in Seoul after it unveiled new products in Germany last night including the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 4 Edge. The Edge created most buzz with a screen that wraps around one edge of the device allowing information to be displayed while the main screen is dark.
DATA DELUGE: The focus of traders is turning to economic data and policy announcements later Thursday. The European Central Bank announces the outcome of its policy meeting and holds a press conference; there are hopes of additional stimulus as Europe's economy continues to flag. Among the U.S. data due is an update on services activity and an employment report from payrolls processor ADP that precedes Friday's official monthly employment report. The Bank of Japan ended its policy board meeting and kept its easy monetary policies unchanged.
ANALYST TAKE: With earnings reports now over, market attention is now turning to possible action from the U.S. Federal Reserve completely withdrawing its extraordinary stimulus measures later this year. Many players are taking a wait-and-see attitude. "The hesitation from investors is likely to increase downside risk in the short term as lower volumes trading through the market can lead to increased volatility," says Chay Flack, equities dealer at CMC Markets in Sydney.
CURRENCIES: The dollar appeared to pause from its recent upward swing, trading at 104.84 yen, down from 105.04 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.3139 from $1.3152.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude for October delivery was down 84 cents to $94.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.