World markets muted ahead of US, European and China economic news

MANILA, Philippines – World stock markets were muted Tuesday as investors readied for U.S. economic news this week and a high-level policy meeting in China.

China’s leaders are scheduled to meet in Beijing from Nov. 9-12 to craft a new blueprint for the world’s No. 2 economy as its state-led growth model runs out of oomph. Hopes are high that the plenum will announce changes to give private businesses a greater say in the economy but reforms will face resistance from officials and state companies who benefit from the status quo.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank has a meeting Thursday where it may foreshadow a further reduction to record low interest rates. The advance estimate of U.S. third quarter economic growth is due the same day. U.S. October jobs figures are due on Friday

“Investors remain cautious ahead of U.S. GDP and jobs number, the ECB decision and the China third plenary,” said Andrew Sullivan of Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong.

Major European benchmarks were down in early trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.1 per cent to 6,754.36 and Germany’s DAX fell 0.2 per cent to 9,020.75. France’s CAC-40 shed 0.2 per cent to 4,279.77.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow and S&P 500 futures were both down 0.2 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.2 per cent higher at 14,225.37 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.7 per cent to 23,038.95. China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.4 per cent at 2,157.24. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.8 per cent to 5,431.96.

The U.S. economic data later this week may influence investors’ expectations about when the Federal Reserve will begin reducing its economic stimulus.

The Fed’s $85 billion in monthly asset purchases have supported economic recovery by keeping interest rates low and have also been one of the reasons why many stock indexes, including the main U.S. markets, have struck record highs.

Following the Fed’s latest policy statement last week, some investors think “tapering” of the stimulus may begin as soon as December or January. That weighed on stock markets, which had been buoyed by expectations the Fed wouldn’t act until March at the earliest, largely because of the uncertainty created by the partial U.S. government showdown last month.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was down 11 cents at $94.52 in electronic trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 1 cent to settle Monday at $94.62

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3482 from $1.3520 late Monday. The dollar fell to 98.24 yen from 98.55 yen.

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