Stock markets mostly fell on Thursday as investors digested the minutes to the last policy meetings of the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX edged 0.1 percent lower to 12,253 and the CAC 40 of France fell 0.2 percent to 5,166. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.4 percent to 7,405. Dow and S&P 500 futures both lost 0.2 percent, pointing to a weak start on Wall Street.
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CENTRAL BANKS: Minutes from the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meeting last month showed a divided Fed. Some members of its policy committee think interest rates should stay about where they are because inflation is still low. Others felt that rates should be raised because delays might lead to dangerously high inflation later. The account of the ECB's own meeting also showed caution about inflation and the concern that investors might be expecting a shift away from stimulus programs sooner than warranted by economic conditions.
JAPAN TRADE: Economic data out of Japan was relatively upbeat, showing exports and imports rose at a fast clip in July. That reflected a recovery in demand in China, Southeast Asia and the U.S., though export prices rose faster than volumes for many products. Exports rose more than 13 percent from a year earlier to 6.5 trillion yen ($59 billion) while imports jumped 16 percent to 6.1 trillion yen ($55 billion), helped by a surge in oil and coal shipments, according to data released Thursday.
ASIAN TRADING: Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 percent lower to 19,702.63. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.2 percent to 27,344.22. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.6 percent to 2,361.67 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent lower to 5,779.20. The Shanghai Composite index added 0.7 percent to 3,268.43. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 17 cents to $46.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 77 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $46.78 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 11 cents to $50.16 per barrel. It dipped 53 cents, or 1 percent, to $50.27 a barrel in London.
CURRRENCIES: The euro fell sharply on the reporting showing the ECB policymakers are cautious about signaling a quick end to stimulus. It was down to $1.1693 from $1.1767 the day before. The dollar slipped to 110.11 yen from 110.20 yen.