TOKYO (AP) — World stock markets were lackluster Thursday after China's economy showed new signs of weakness and the eurozone saw an uptick in hiring.
KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent to 5,116.88 and Germany's DAX dropped 0.5 percent to 11,796.15. Britain's FTSE 100 was up almost 0.1 percent at 7,008.85. Futures pointed to modest losses on Wall Street later. Dow and S&P 500 futures were each 0.1 percent lower.
CHINA, EUROPE DATA: Manufacturing in China shrank for the third month in May as demand remained soft, raising the chances of more stimulus to prop up growth in the world's No. 2 economy. HSBC's preliminary manufacturing index came in at 49.1, slightly better than April's 48.9 but still indicating a contraction.
In Europe, a similar survey showed employers were hiring at their fastest level in four years. The improvement came as the weaker euro was helping exporters get more business. Overall business activity, however, slowed down.
FED MINUTES: Investors took in their stride the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting from April, which showed policymakers generally thought June was too early to raise rates. That was not a surprise and the minutes didn't provide any hint about how long the bank would wait after June before hiking its policy rate for the first time since the global financial crisis.
ASIA SCOREBOARD: Japan's Nikkei 225 was barely changed at 20,202.87 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent to 27,523.72. South's Korea Kospi dropped 0.8 percent to 2,122.81. Benchmarks in Singapore, India and Taiwan also fell. China's Shanghai Composite jumped 1.9 percent to 4,529.42 as the weak data reinforced hopes for more government measures to boost the economy; the index is up about 125 percent over the past year. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 5,662.30.
BOJ MEETING: Bank of Japan policymakers started a two-day monetary policy meeting that will wrap up Friday. It's unlikely the central bank will alter its already lavishly easy monetary stance. Some economists advocate an expansion of BOJ's monetary stimulus but stronger-than-expected growth for the first quarter suggests policymakers will stay their current course for now.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 63 cents at $59.61 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 99 cents to close at $58.98 a barrel in Nymex floor trading on Wednesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 121.08 yen from 121.25 yen. The euro rose to $1.1144 from $1.1094.
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