Europe, US stocks retreat; Tokyo higher


European and US stocks slid on Friday as traders booked profits while the momentum from the previous week petered out in the absence of fresh market-moving news.

While most Asian markets were cautious, Tokyo’s main index managed to rise as the yen eased, supporting export stocks like automakers sensitive to the currency’s recent strengthening.

In New York the S&P 500 gave up 0.1 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average 0.2 percent in listless trading.

US bourses were joined by a new public exchange, IEX, which opened with a built-in “speed bump” designed to prevent high-speed traders that dominate the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange action from cutting in front of other orders to move prices against them.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index closed down 0.15 percent, while in the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shed 0.5 percent and the Paris CAC 40 lost 0.8 percent.

“In light of an almost empty economic calendar today more of the same trading pattern appears likely… with the occasional round of profit-taking,” said City of London Markets trader Markus Huber.

Oil prices were mostly higher, holding up the gains of early in the week amid continued hopes that OPEC and Russia will move to limit production in a coming meeting.

Brent North Sea crude slip just a cent to $50.88 a barrel, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 22 cents at $49.11 a barrel.

Mixed Fed signals

Mixed comments from Federal Reserve officials continued to cloud the picture for a possible interest rate rise this year, indicating the US central bank remains unsettled about the disjunction between the strong jobs market and weak inflation.

On Wednesday minutes from the Fed’s July meeting said that policymakers wanted to keep “options open” and remained divided on the need for a near-term rate hike.

“It would seem that Federal Reserve officials face a very complex, and possibly divisive, debate over the conundrum of an improving employment sector against a background of low inflation and tepid consumer spending,” Stephen Innes, a senior trader at forex firm OANDA, wrote in a commentary.

Other key Asian markets were mixed, with Shanghai slightly up while Hong Kong slipped 0.2 percent.

“The market lacks momentum,” Margaret Yang, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.

“The market has been driven by liquidity arising from loose monetary policies by central banks around the world, rather than improving economic fundamentals. Besides the rally in oil, there’s nothing that could push share prices higher.”