Global shares mixed ahead of US-China talks
SEOUL: European stocks are mixed after Asian markets finished mostly lower on Tuesday. Investors are cautiously awaiting President Donald Trump's meeting with the Chinese president later this week.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent to 7,308.04 and France's CAC 40 added 0.02 percent to 5,086.52. Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent to 12,238.50. Futures showed Wall Street due to open with losses. S&P futures and Dow futures were both down 0.3 percent.
ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.9 percent to 18,810.25 as the yen gained against the US dollar. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.3 percent to 2,161.10. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,856.60. Southeast Asian shares were mixed. Markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.
WEAK CAR SALES: Automakers including Ford and General Motors reported disappointing sales for March in a sign that does not bode well for US consumer spending. US auto sales fell for a third straight month, by 1.6 percent to just over 1.55 million vehicles, as passenger car sales dropped. Analysts had expected a small increase.
XI-TRUMP MEETING: Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, leaders of the world's two largest economies, are expected to discuss North Korea, trade, US jobs and other geopolitical and economic issues when they meet for the first time for a two-day bilateral meeting on Thursday and Friday.
Trump's past comments have raised concern over the potential for conflict, though some analysts see room for compromise and positive outcomes.
ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "We head into Tuesday trade with a distinct risk-off vibe, although the moves in equities are probably best described as a 'drift,' rather than a 'spike' lower," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, said in a commentary.
ASIAN AUTO MAKERS: Investors reduced their holdings of automakers following weak March sales reports. In Seoul, South Korea, Hyundai Motor's stock dropped 2.9 percent while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors lost 1.4 percent. In Tokyo, Honda Motor's stock fell 2.7 percent and Toyota Motor dropped 1 percent.
TOSHIBA'S WOES: Shares in the troubled Japanese company sank 9 percent on Tuesday after national broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person, that the company may need extra financial support to cover its losses.
Its US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric filed for bankruptcy protection last week.
OIL: Benchmark US crude lost 13 cents to $50.11 per barrel in New York. The contract lost 36 cents to close at $50.24 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 8 cents to $53.04 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 110.51 yen from 110.92 yen while the euro weakened to $1.0659 from $1.0671.