Global stocks mostly fell Tuesday as investors digested soft economic data and looked toward the British election later in the week.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 lost 0.6 percent to 5,276 and Germany’s DAX fell 1 percent to 12,701. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent at 7,509. U.S. shares were set to drift lower, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both shedding 0.3 percent.
EUROPE’S OUTLOOK: Investor sentiment was dampened slightly by a weak report on retail sales in the 19-country eurozone. Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April, below expectations. More broadly, markets are also subdued ahead of an increasingly unpredictable U.K. election on Thursday. The race has tightened between the Conservatives and the Labour party, with uncertain consequences for the country’s Brexit negotiations.
MIDEAST TENSIONS: A diplomatic rift between Qatar and other major Middle Eastern countries also drew attention. Qatar is one of the world’s largest suppliers of natural gas, and any effort to halt its exports could affect the energy market. Investors will also be aware of the potential for greater instability in the region as Qatar clashes diplomatically with regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia, a massive energy supplier, and Egypt. Qatar is also home to some 10,000 American troops and a major U.S. military base.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped nearly 1.0 percent to finish at 19,979.90. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 1.5 percent at 5,667.50. South Korean markets were closed for the Memorial Day holiday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.5 percent to 25,997.14, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.3 percent to 3,102.13.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 12 cents to $47.28 a barrel. It fell 26 cents to $47.40 a barrel in New York on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 14 cents to $49.33 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.1257 from $1.1276 late Monday. The dollar weakened to 109.39 yen from 110.48 yen.