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World stocks steady amid firm Chinese growth, earnings

Global stock markets were steady Wednesday after China reported its economy expanded at a firm pace in the July-September quarter and investors awaited more U.S. corporate earnings reports.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX edged down 0.1 percent to 10,616 and the FTSE 100 in Britain lost 0.2 percent to 6,989. France’s CAC 40 was flat at 4,507. Wall Street also looked set for small gains, with S&P futures unchanged and Dow futures up 0.1 percent.

STEADY CHINA: The 6.7 percent annual pace of growth reported by China was supported by strong consumer spending that helped offset weakness in trade. That was in line with the two previous quarters and better than some forecasters expected. “We won’t get the full breakdown until tomorrow but we suspect that the key driver was stronger growth in real estate services, on the back of buoyant property sales. Financial sector growth is also likely to have recovered as last year’s equity bubble dropped out of the base for comparison,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

WALL STREET GAINS: Market support could come from earnings reports, which have been surprisingly strong so far in the U.S. from the likes of Netflix, UnitedHealth Group and other companies. On Wednesday, the companies due to report included eBay, Morgan Stanley, and American Express.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “U.S. markets have provided Asia with a healthy platform from which to progress,” Chris Weston of IG said in a report. “We’ve also seen a slew of earnings reports (including Goldman Sachs) and once again whether one is looking at the underlying earnings or the sales lines, companies are beating the analysts’ estimates.”

EDGY IN EUROPE: Sentiment was more cautious in Europe following big gains the day before and as investors looked ahead to the European Central Bank’s policy meeting Thursday. The bank is not expected to take action and all eyes will be on ECB Mario Draghi’s news conference for hints on whether the ECB will continue its bond-buying beyond the March expiration date.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 16,998.91 and Australia’s S&P ASX/200 added 0.5 percent to 5,435.40. The Kospi in South Korea jumped was flat at 2,040.94 and Shanghai’s Composite index was also almost unchanged at 3,084.72. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.4 percent to 23,304.97, while India’s Sensex turned around early losses to gain less than 0.1 percent, at 28,064.65. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher, with Thailand’s SET up 0.9 percent.

OIL: U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 66 cents to $50.95 a barrel after a report of a drawdown in inventories. It rose 35 cents the day before. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 66 cents as well, at $52.43 a barrel, in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 103.38 yen from 103.81 and the euro was roughly unchanged at $1.0980.


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