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Political risks weigh on global markets ahead of oil data

A raft of political risks kept a lid on global stock markets on Wednesday, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average struck a new milestone.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.1 percent at 7,176 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent to 11,539. The CAC 40 in France was 0.3 percent higher at 4,768. U.S. stocks were poised for a modestly lower opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.1 percent.

POLITICAL RISKS: Since the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory in last year’s U.S. presidential election, stocks have been largely in the ascendant, particularly in the U.S., where the Dow breached 20,000 for the first time. On Tuesday, it struck a new intra-day high before giving up some of those gains to close at 20,090.29. However, there are signs that investors are beginning to fret over a series of political risks not only related to Trump. Worries over Greece’s bailout, Britain’s imminent triggering of its two-year exit process from the European Union and France’s upcoming presidential election are becoming concerns.

ANALYST TAKE: “Political risk remains a major concern for traders, with Donald Trump’s unpredictability, the Brexit debate in parliament and the French election all creating a rather unsettling environment for traders,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rebounded from early losses to rise 0.5 percent to 19,007.60 points while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 23,485.13. The Shanghai Composite index added 0.4 percent to 3,166.98 and Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 5,651.40. India’s Sensex fell 0.2 percent to 28,289.92 and benchmarks in New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also were lower.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude extended losses, falling 30 cents to $51.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after weekly data showed a sustained buildup in U.S. oil inventories. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, shed 19 cents to $54.86 a barrel.

THE QUOTE: Following Tuesday’s figures from the American Petroleum Institute data showing crude inventory at 14.2 million barrels, the second highest on record, oil traders are awaiting official government data due later Wednesday. “If they too show similar signs of strength, any hopes of oil hitting $60 a barrel will slip away,” said Fiona Cincotta, market analyst at City Index.

CURRENCIES: The euro was flat at $1.0675 while the dollar fell 0.4 percent to 111.96 yen.


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