Stock market today: European shares slip after Chinese markets led gains in Asia

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed on Thursday as European markets retreated following gains in Asia, where Chinese stocks rallied after Beijing announced a raft of policies to support sagging markets.

France’s CAC 40 lost 0.2% to 7,440.66 and Germany’s DAX slipped 0.3% to 16,849.26. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1% lower, to 7,521.19. The future for the S&P 500 was little changed while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2%.

The European Central Bank was expected to keep interest rates unchanged Thursday and its meeting could see ECB boss Christine Lagarde send a message to financial markets to cool it with expectations for rapid rate cuts.

The ECB leader is faced with financial markets that are anticipating cuts as early as April, and stock prices that have risen and fallen depending on hopes for the boost from lower rates.

In Asian trading, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 2.0% to 16,211.96, while the Shanghai Composite index was up 3.0%, at 2,906.11.

Late Wednesday, the Chinese central bank announced a set of rules to govern lending to property developers. Earlier, it said it would cut bank reserve requirements to put about 1 trillion yuan ($141 billion) into the economy.

The Chinese economy has slowed, with growth forecast below 5% this year, its lowest level since 1990 excluding the years of the COVID-19 pandemic. A debt crisis in the real estate industry has compounded other longer-term problems.

Shares in Chinese property developers jumped Thursday, with China Evergrande up 6.4% and Country Garden gaining 5.9%.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was little changed, finishing about 10 points higher at 36,236.47.

Speculation has been growing about the Bank of Japan ending its negative rate policy later this year, and investors are bracing for what that might mean for the nation’s inflation, as well as its currency.

South Korea’s Kospi edged up less than 1 point to 2,470.34 after the nation’s central bank reported the economy grew at a better-than-expected quarterly rate of 0.6% in the last quarter of 2023.

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.5% to 7,555.40.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 added 0.1% to 4,868.55, setting a record for a fourth straight day. Gains for tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq composite up 0.4% and the Dow industrials lost 0.3%.

Stocks have broadly rocketed to records recently on hopes that cooling inflation will convince the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates several times this year.

Later Thursday, the government is expected to report that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of around 2% in October-December, slowing from a vigorous 4.9% annual growth rate in the previous quarter.

Economic reports coming later in the week could further sway expectations for rate cuts this year. On Thursday, the government will give its first estimate for how quickly the economy grew during the end of 2023. A day later, it will give the latest monthly update on the measure of inflation that the Federal Reserve prefers to use.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added $1.23 to $76.32 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.13 to $80.77 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 147.60 Japanese yen from 147.51 yen. The euro cost $1.0900, up from $1.0884.

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