World stocks mostly fell Wednesday after a sharp drop in the dollar shook investor enthusiasm.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany’s DAX shed 0.1 percent to 11,535 and Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat at 7,2223. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.6 percent to 4,828. U.S. shares were poised to open flat, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both roughly unchanged.
DOLLAR’S DIVE: The dollar leveled off a day after slumping against peers including the yen, euro and pound. One factor behind the currency fluctuations was British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech about Britain’s pending departure from the European Union, which soothed investors following months of uncertainty about the plan for an exit following the June vote. Comments by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump about the dollar being “too strong” and hurting U.S competitiveness with China also helped push down the currency.
QUOTEWORTHY: Initial investor optimism over Trump’s promises to bring in business-friendly policies has been waning as reality sets in, suggested Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore. “The market has been anticipating better clarity into the economic plans of the new administration for months and weeks, expected to come as President-elect Donald Trump steps into office” on Friday, said Pan. “Last Wednesday’s press conference and the latest set of comments from … Trump have probably been a preview for more volatility instead as the market stands ready to adjust expectations.”
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index recouped early losses to end 0.4 percent higher at 18,894.37 while South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,070.54. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.1 percent to 23,098.26 as local stocks were poised to benefit from the dollar’s weakness due to the city’s currency peg to the dollar. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China added 0.1 percent to 3,113.01 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,678.80.
CURRENCIES: The British pound, which surged against the dollar after May’s speech, eased to $1.2279 from $1.2393 in late trading Tuesday. The dollar edged up to 113.36 yen from 112.79 yen, but is down 1.4 percent for the week so far against the Japanese currency. The euro slipped to $1.0686 from $1.070.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 79 cents to $51.69 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 11 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 70 cents to $54.77.