Stocks recover their poise ahead of US economic data

AP News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2015 8:31 AM
Stocks recover their poise ahead of US economic data

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets on Friday recovered their poise after the previous day's losses when investors were spooked by the escalating conflict in Yemen. However, oil prices slipped back from Thursday's sizeable advance when traders worried about the conflict's impact on oil supplies.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent at 11,895 while the CAC-40 in France was up 0.5 percent at 5,030. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares however was 0.4 percent lower at 6,868. Wall Street was poised for a subdued opening with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.1 percent.

MIDDLE EAST: The turmoil in Yemen is also a key focus in financial markets, particularly in oil markets. The conflict has erupted into a regional conflict, with Saudi Arabia and its allies bombing Shiite rebels allied with Iran, while Egyptian officials said a ground assault will follow the airstrikes. Iran denounced the Saudi-led air campaign, saying it "considers this action a dangerous step." The military action has turned impoverished and chaotic Yemen into a new front in the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 73 cents to $50.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That comes after a sharp $2.22, or 4.5 percent, gain on Thursday. Meanwhile, Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 80 cents at $58.39 a barrel in London.

ANALYST TAKE: "The fact that we're seeing a small decline in prices today does not mean that traders are no longer concerned about the conflict, it's simply a correction because yesterday's rally was a little overdone," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

US GDP IN FOCUS: How U.S. markets open could largely hinge on the final revision to fourth quarter U.S. economic growth. Most analysts expect the previous reading to be revised slightly higher to 2.4 percent. "Economic data is back in the focus for U.S. investors," said Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG.

ASIA SCORECARD: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.0 percent to 19,285.63 and South Korea's Kospi was down 0.1 percent at 2,019.80. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged 0.04 percent lower to 24,486.20. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 5,919.90. Taiwan's benchmark fell and markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. currency has appreciated 8 percent in the past three months, a trend that tends to make U.S.-made goods more expensive abroad, but can help competitors in Japan and Europe. On Friday, the euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.0863 while the dollar was flat at 119.20 yen.