NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening flat on Wall Street Thursday. Losses by healthcare stocks such as Cardinal Health are holding back gains by consumer staples such as Kellogg, leaving indexes hardly changed from Wednesday’s flat close. The Labor Department reported that U.S. productivity rebounded sharply in the first quarter. Other data showed unemployment aid fell last week to the lowest point since before the viral pandemic. European indexes fell in early trading Thursday while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished higher. The global recovery is raising hopes for improved exports and earnings of companies doing business overseas.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story appears below.
Global shares were mixed Thursday on cautious optimism that upcoming company earnings reports will reflect a gradual recovery from the damage of the pandemic.
France’s CAC 40 dipped 0.2% to 6,329.20, while Germany’s DAX shed 0.2% to 15,146.60. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.2% lower to 7,026.93. U.S shares were set for a slow start, with the future for the Dow industrials down less than 0.1% to 34,111. The S&P 500 future also was little changed, at 4,158.12.
In Asian trading, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.8% to finish at 29,331.37, in the first session after the Golden Week series of national holidays. South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.0.% to 3,178.74, but Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.5% to 7,061.70. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8% to 28,637.46, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.2% to 3,441.28.
Although the vaccine rollout is progressing slowly in Asia compared to the U.S. and Europe, the global recovery is raising hopes for better exports and earnings of companies doing business overseas.
Japanese shares got a boost from remarks by policymakers at the Bank of Japan expressing their resolve to prop up the economy with easy lending and stimulus measures. In the minutes for their meeting in March, they said the negative impact from COVID-19 on global economies was likely decreasing
The market’s mixed results came as investors remain focused on earnings reports, which have been better than expected. More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their results so far this earnings season, showing an average profit growth of 54%, according to FactSet.
While shares have been pressing higher thanks to expectations that the pandemic is waning, investors remain concerned about the potential for higher inflation, signs of which are already cropping up as higher prices for oil, lumber and other commodities.
Investors’ attention is turning to Friday’s jobs report for April. Economists expect the data to show employers hired 975,000 workers last month as the economy accelerated out of the pandemic and vaccines rolled out nationwide. The unemployment rate is expected to drop to 5.8% from 6%.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost 44 cents to $65.19 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 45 cents to $68.51 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 109.16 Japanese yen from 109.17 yen. The euro cost $1.2047, up from $1.2014.
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