Global stock markets turned lower on Wednesday as investors monitored developments in global trade tensions as well as mixed corporate earnings reports.
KEEPING SCORE: London's FTSE 100 lost 0.8 percent to 7,645 while France's CAC 40 shed almost 0.1 percent to 5,432. Germany's DAX lost 0.6 percent to 12,608. On Wall Street, futures for the Standard & Poor's 500 index were off 0.2 percent while those for the Dow Jones industrial average were 0.3 percent lower.
ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.5 percent to 22,614.25 while the Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 2,903.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.9 percent to 28,920.09 and Seoul's Kospi fell 0.3 percent to 2,273.03. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.3 percent to 6,247.60 while India's Sensex was 0.3 percent higher at 36,922.41. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Southeast Asia rose while Taiwan declined.
WALL STREET: Gains by technology companies and health care stocks had led markets higher earlier. But earnings were mixed in Europe, where Fiat Chrysler lowered its outlook after a decline in profit. Deutsche Bank saw its profits drop, though less than expected, while Coca-Cola reported strong profit and revenue figures. Other companies reporting Thursday include Facebook, Ford, General Motors and Visa.
TRADE TALK: European Union officials are meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington to try to ease tensions in trade. But they warned ahead of the talks that if Trump goes ahead and puts duties on imports of cars from Europe, they will respond with $20 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods. Meanwhile, farmers in the U.S. welcomed the government's move to provide cash to help offset lost exports but said they would rather have Trump settle trade disputes with China, Mexico, Canada and Europe. The Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion plan to pay producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. The USDA also will buy the surplus of commodities that would otherwise have been exported and distribute them to food banks and other nutrition programs. That will cover fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk.
ANALYST COMMENT: Trump's comment on Twitter that "Tariffs are the greatest!" suggests "relief will be short-lived," Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank said in a report. Trump's aid to farmers "points to staying the course on tariffs for now; or at least turning up the heat."
DAM DISASTER: Shares of companies affiliated with SK E&C sank after the failure of a portion of a dam in Laos built by the South Korean construction company caused flooding that killed at least two people. Investors worried about potential compensation claims and damage to SK E&C's overseas business. Shares in SK Discovery Co., its second-largest shareholder with a 28.25 stake, tumbled more than 11 percent to a three-year low.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 1 cent to $68.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 63 cents on Tuesday to close at $68.52. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 51 cents to $73.95 per barrel in London. It advanced 38 cents the previous session to $73.44.
CURRENCY: The dollar fell to 111.00 yen from 111.17 yen on Tuesday. The euro advanced to $1.1697 from $1.1686.