Global stock markets traded in narrow ranges Friday as sentiment was kept in check by worries over Hurricane Irma and developments surrounding North Korea.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.4 percent at 7,364, while Germany’s DAX was steady at 12,296. The CAC 40 was 0.3 percent lower at 5,101. U.S. stocks were poised for a lower opening, with Dow futures and the S&P 500 futures both down 0.3 percent.
NORTH KOREA: Worries over North Korea have been elevated over the past few weeks after Pyongyang has launched a series of missile tests. This weekend is a particular source of worry as the country celebrates its founding anniversary. North Korea has previously marked key dates with displays of military power, but now its tests appear to be driven by the need to improve missile capabilities.
ANALYST TAKE: “Risk aversion is creeping back into the markets as traders prepare for what could be another troubling weekend in the ongoing standoff between the U.S. and North Korea,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
HURRICANE DAMAGE: Also weighing on sentiment is the huge damage caused by Hurricane Irma, which has slammed the north Caribbean and is projected to reach Florida. The first hurricane warnings for parts of southern Florida have been issued, as the state braced for what could be a catastrophic hit over the weekend. Following in Irma’s wake was Hurricane Jose, with some of the islands hit hardest by Irma in its expected path.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 0.6 percent lower at 19,274.82 after the country’s growth rate was revised lower. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,672.60. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 2,343.72. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 27,668.47, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed at 3,365.24.
JAPAN ECONOMY: The Japanese economy grew at a slower pace in the April-June quarter, not the surprisingly strong spurt indicated by an earlier estimate, according to revised government data. The Cabinet Office said the gross domestic product or GDP — the total value of a nation’s goods and services — grew at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent. That second preliminary reading is a dramatic adjustment from the first, released last month, of 4 percent growth.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 18 cents to $48.91 a barrel while Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 12 cents to $54.61 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.2064 while the dollar slid 1 percent to 17.39 yen.