World stock markets cautious amid company earnings

HONG KONG – Global stock markets were steady on Thursday as investors weighed a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports and economic data.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX stock index was flat at 10,710 and France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.2 per cent to 4,527. Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat at 6,957. U.S. stocks were poised to open slightly higher, with Dow futures ticking 0.2 per cent higher and broader S&P 500 futures gaining 0.3 per cent.

PROFIT AND LOSS: Investors were evaluating the latest corporate profit reports. Samsung’s profits slumped 17 per cent for the July-September period after it recalled and discontinued its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 phone. Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Volkswagen returned to profits, easing some concerns about their respective problems, including the bank’s legal issues in the U.S. and the carmaker’s costly emissions scandal.

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: British third quarter growth was better than expected, at a quarterly rate of 0.5 per cent, compared with forecasts for 0.3 per cent. While still a preliminary figure, it helped ease concerns about a potential slowdown following the country’s vote in June to leave the European Union. Looking ahead, investors will focus on a U.S. GDP report due Friday, while next week the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan have policy meetings.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.3 per cent to end at 17,336.42 while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5 per cent to 2,024.12. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.8 per cent to 23,132.35 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China dipped 0.1 per cent to 3,112.35. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.2 per cent to 5,295.50. Benchmarks in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

ENERGY: Oil prices stabilized after falling for three straight days. U.S. benchmark crude futures rose 16 cents to $49.34 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 78 cents overnight. Brent crude, the international standard, added 31 cents to $50.29 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 104.73 yen from 104.66 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro was higher, at $1.0923 from $1.0906.