Global stocks mostly turned lower on Wednesday amid reports that the U.S. is considering a move that would allow it to put tariffs on some Chinese imports. Investors will also monitor U.S. jobs data ahead of the key payrolls report on Friday.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX dropped 0.2 percent to 12,227 and the CAC 40 of France edged 0.1 percent lower to 5,121. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.4 percent to 7,392. Wall Street looked set for gains with Dow futures up 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 futures up almost 0.1 percent.
CHINA TRADE: President Donald Trump's administration may use rarely invoked U.S. trade laws to fend off China's demands that foreign companies share their technology in return for access to the Chinese markets, according to a person familiar with the matter. The law allows Washington to investigate China's trade practices and raise tariffs on imports from China or impose other sanctions. The move comes as Trump's administration appears set to adopt a harsher stance toward Beijing than it did during the initial months after the inauguration.
ECONOMIC DATA: Factory output data in China, Europe and the U.S. released this week were encouraging, while the Institute for Supply Management reported that U.S. factory production rose again last month though at a slower pace than in June. Later Wednesday, U.S. payroll processor ADP will give its employment updates for July. But the biggest highlight will be the U.S. jobs report due Friday.
ANALYST'S COMMENT: "Tonight, investors will closely watch the ADP private payroll number to assess the health of the jobs market," said Margaret Yang, a market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore. "A higher figure indicates rising employment and potential inflation pressure, which will increase the likelihood of rate hikes."
IPHONE IMPACT: Apple reported Tuesday that its quarterly earnings rose 12 percent to $8.7 billion, exceeding expectations, as demand for iPhones rose and gave an upbeat revenue forecast for the current quarter, easing concerns about production problems for the next-generation iPhone. Shares of Apple's suppliers in Asia rose. Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.8 percent and LG Display Co. jumped 1.8 percent. Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Co., which assembles Apple's iPhones, climbed 2.2 percent.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent to 20,080.04 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.2 percent to 2,427.63. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.2 percent to 27,607.38 while the Shanghai Composite index shed 0.2 percent to 3,285.06. Australia's ASX/S&P 200 bucked the region's trend, falling 0.5 percent to 5,744.20 as commodity prices dropped. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 8 cents to $49.08 per barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed $1.01 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 2 cent to $51.80 per barrel in London. It dropped 94 cents the day before.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.72 yen from 110.36 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1830 from $1.1802.