Global stocks were mixed Wednesday as worries lingered over political uncertainty in Washington while China was boosted by manufacturing data. The British pound fell on concerns that the general election may be a tighter race than expected.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent to 5,319 while Germany’s DAX gained 0.5 percent at 12,659. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 7,561. U.S. shares were set to rise, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent.
TRUMP FACTOR: An ongoing probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election has set off uncertainty about the administration of President Donald Trump. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has decided to provide documents to the Senate intelligence committee, while Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has rejected a House intelligence committee request for information. Former White House staffer Boris Epshteyn confirmed he has been contacted for information as part of the investigation.
CHINA DATA: An official monthly survey showed that growth in China’s factory activity was steady last month in a sign that the recovery in the world’s No. 2 economy is holding up. The purchasing’ managers index, or PMI, released Wednesday came in at 51.2 for May.
THE QUOTE: “This suggests further stablization of the world’s second largest economy and will allow policy makers more room to carry out the de-leverage campaign in an attempt to reduce the country’s heightened debts,” Margaret Yang Yan, analyst with CMC Markets Singapore, said of the China data.
BRITISH RACE: The pound was volatile after polls and surveys suggested the general election of June 8 might be closer than many had expected. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party had been expected to win by a landslide but recent polls have shed doubt on that. Investors are worried that a smaller majority could weaken the government’s ability to negotiate a good Brexit deal with the European Union. The currency fell below $1.2800 on Wednesday before recovering slightly to trade down 0.2 percent on the day, at $1.2836.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.1 percent to finish at 19,650.57. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 5,724.60. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.2 percent to 2,347.38. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched down 0.1 percent to 25,667.10, while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.2 percent at 3,117.18.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 99 cents to $48.67 a barrel in New York. It lost 14 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.22 to $50.62 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.78 yen from 111.07 yen late Tuesday in Asia. The euro rose to $1.1217 from $1.1181.