World stocks mixed as markets mull Trump's tax plan
HONG KONG: World stock indexes were mixed Thursday as investors assessed the scant details of President Donald Trump's US tax overhaul. Japan's central bank kept its monetary policy unchanged and forecasted steady growth for Asia's No. 2 economy.
KEEPING SCORE: European shares fell in early trading. France's CAC 40 lost 0.4 percent to 5,266.82, Germany's DAX dipped 0.3 percent to 12,436.58, and Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.5 percent to 7,249.97. US shares were poised to open slightly higher. Dow futures rose less than 0.1 percent to 20,922.00 and broader S&P 500 futures were up a fifth of a percent at 2,382.60.
TRUMP ON TAX: The White House unveiled broad outlines of Trump's tax plan, omitting many details. Officials said they hoped to slash corporate taxes to 15 percent from 35 percent, but specifics are still to be negotiated. Shares have risen on hopes for big tax cuts and less red tape. Based on the few specifics spelled out so far, most experts suggested the plan would add little to growth while swelling the budget deficit and potentially handing large windfalls to wealthier taxpayers.
QUOTEWORTHY: "Trump's big tax reforms and tax reductions on Wednesday proved to be not so big, at least from Wall Street's perspective," said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM. "The lack of details contained on Trump's single piece of paper was perceived as a publicity stunt for the president as he celebrates his first 100 days in the Oval Office, and unfortunately, seemed more of a wish list than a serious starting point."
JAPAN OUTLOOK: The central bank forecast growth in the world's third-largest economy would remain steady over the next year as it keeps its ultra-lax monetary policy unchanged. The Bank of Japan said preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would support growth by spurring demand but warned of risks from geopolitical trends.
SOUTH KOREAN GROWTH: A recovery in exports helped the South Korean economy expand at the fastest pace in a year, the country's central bank said. Asia's No. 4 economy beat forecasts by growing 2.7 percent in the first quarter, defying a backlash from Chinese consumers over deployment of a US missile defense system.
SAMSUNG IN THE MONEY: The South Korean electronics giant posted its fattest quarterly profits in more than three years, boosted by stellar performance at its semiconductor division. The first-quarter earnings, which come after a tough period for the company, leaped 46 percent over the year-ago period.
TAKATA SHARES RESUME TRADING: Shares in troubled airbag and seatbelt maker Takata Corp. fell 19.5 percent after a temporary trading halt. A company statement said restructuring talks are in progress but no decisions have been made, following a report in the financial newspaper Nikkei that Takata was planning to file for bankruptcy protection.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.2 percent to finish at 19,251.87 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 2,209.46. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 24,598.48 and the Shanghai Composite index climbed 0.4 percent to 3,152.19. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2 percent to 5,921.50. Taiwan's benchmark rose but those in Southeast Asia mostly fell.
ENERGY: Benchmark US crude oil fell 63 cents to $48.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents to settle at $49.62 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 59 cents to $51.82.