World markets hesitant amid mixed earnings

AP News
Posted: Jan 17, 2014 8:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — World markets mostly edged lower on Friday as corporate earnings results made investors cautious of chasing stocks to new highs.

On Thursday, earnings from electronics retailer Best Buy and investment banks Goldman Sachs and Citigroup disappointing. That was followed Friday by Shell, the oil company, which warned its fourth-quarter profit would be worse than expected. Morgan Stanley saw its profit fall as well, though not as much as analysts had feared.

Economic data also failed to pick up sentiment, with official figures showing U.S. home construction dipped in December.

My early afternoon in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down almost 0.1 percent to 6,813.92. France's CAC-40 was down the same rate at 4,317.78, while Germany's DAX was flat at 9,714.15.

Asian indexes closed lower, but Wall Street was expected to edge up on the open. Dow Jones industrial futures were up 0.1 percent at 16,345 while S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent to 1,838, putting it back within striking distance of a record high touched this week.

Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia, said the recent record close set by the S&P was making investors reconsider their appetite for stocks.

"Investors will get a little bit nervous at high levels," he said. "They'd really like to see the earnings come out just to back up the theory that the U.S. markets are on the mend."

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 percent lower at 15,734.46. China's Shanghai Composite index sank 0.9 percent to 2,004.95, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6 percent to 23,133.35 after slipping in early trading.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent, South Korea's Kospi was down 0.7 percent, while most Southeast Asian markets finished higher.

Benchmark crude for February delivery rose 74 cents to $94.70 in electronic trading on the New York Merchantile Exchange. The contract fell 21 cents to settle at $93.96 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell 0.3 percent against the dollar, to $1.3579, while the U.S. currency was flat against the Japanese yen, at 104.33 yen.