Global stock markets mostly fell Thursday as concerns about economic growth continued to weigh on sentiment and trading was thinned by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX index dropped 0.9 percent to close at 11,138.49 and the CAC 40 in France shed 0.8 percent to 4,938.14. Britain’s FTSE 100 index lost 1.3 percent to 6,960.32. U.S. markets were closed for the holiday on Thursday and will be open for only a half-day on Friday.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 0.7 percent higher at 21,646.55 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.2 percent to 26,019.41. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.3 percent to 2,069.95. The Shanghai Composite shed 0.2 percent to 2,645.43. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9 percent to 5,691.30. Shares fell in Taiwan and Thailand but rose in Singapore.
The pound rose sharply after Britain and the European Union reached a deal in principle on future relations. The deal is due to be approved by EU leaders on Sunday but still faces uncertain prospect of passing the British Parliament, where many lawmakers are unhappy with the terms. The deal aims to minimize the damage to business from Brexit by agreeing to negotiate a free trade deal.
Economic figures in the U.S. have raised further concerns about the impact of the ongoing trade disputes. Durable goods orders fell 4.4 percent last month from September, the largest amount in 15 months, with commercial and military aircraft leading the decline. Experts say this could point to adverse effects of a trade dispute between the U.S. and China, who have imposed additional tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods. The issue adds to others on the mind of investors, including the profitability of the technology sector and the impact of higher interest rates on the economy.
“Basically the same issues — higher U.S. rates, trade, tech correction and fears of its morphing into weaker global growth — are continuing to keep investors on edge,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital.
Traders are also keeping an eye on oil prices, which fell sharply this week on the prospect of high supplies from major producers like the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 51 cents to $54.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.20 to close at $54.63 in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 32 cents to $63.16. It finished 95 cents higher at $63.48 in London.
The dollar weakened to 112.99 yen from 113.07 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1402 from $1.1383 and the pound rose to $1.2866 from $.12776.