Stocks and the dollar mostly fell Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump made the surprise move to fire FBI Director James Comey, and as weak Chinese data added to concern that the economy is slowing.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX was down 0.1 percent to 12,733 and France’s CAC40 lost 0.1 percent to 5,391. The FTSE 100 of Britain bucked the trend to rise 0.3 percent at 7,364. Wall Street looked set for a weak start, with S&P 500 futures down 0.2 percent and Dow futures down 0.3 percent.
COMEY’S DISMISSAL: The dollar dipped against other major currencies after Trump’s surprise announcement that he had fired Comey, flouting decades of presidential deference to the nation’s top law enforcement agency and its independence. The Trump White House cited Comey’s handling of last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices as the cause for the firing. The dollar fell to 113.74 from 114.11 Japanese yen earlier in the day while the euro dipped to $1.0865 from $1.0876.
CHINA INFLATION: Consumer prices rose in April, with inflation at 1.2 percent, but factory-gate producer costs fell slightly from the month before, for the first time in almost a year. The trends suggest weakness underlying a rebound in growth that regulators are already trying to cool.
ANALYST’S VIEW: “Further ahead, producer price inflation should continue to wane as policy tightening weighs on economic activity. Consumer price inflation, meanwhile, may inch up further but should remain below 2.0 percent. The upshot is that hopes for a sustained reflation in China are fading,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economic said in a commentary.
MOON RISES: Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s newly elected liberal president, took office Wednesday. Moon promised social and economic reforms including creating jobs, curbing excessive power of founding families who control big businesses and ending corruptions between big businesses and politicians. But South Korea’s benchmark Kospi fell for the first time in four sessions, retreating from a record high set on the eve of Tuesday’s election.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 percent to 19,900.09 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.5 percent to 25,015.42. The Shanghai Composite index gave up early gains to sink 0.9 percent to 3,052.79. South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.0 percent to 2,270.12, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent to 5,875.40.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 55 cents to $46.43 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 55 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 53 cents to $49.26 a barrel in London. It fell 61 cents the day before.