Global stock markets rose modestly on Friday as the investment outlook remained uncertain ahead of U.S. economic data and remarks by the head of the Federal Reserve.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent to 10,279 while France’s CAC 40 edged up almost the same rate to 4,514. Britain’s FTSE 100 was 0.1 percent higher at 6,269. U.S. stocks were poised to open marginally higher, with Dow and S&P 500 futures each up 0.1 percent.
FED IN FOCUS: Investors will be watching to see what Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has to say about monetary policy. She’s scheduled to hold a “conversation” about interest rates with a professor at an event at Harvard University. Policymakers have signaled that they’ll opt to raise rates again at the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting in June if economic conditions continue to improve, another step in dialing back the loose monetary policy that has supported global stock markets.
MARKET INSIGHT: “While the market implied probability of a June or July rate increase has increased in recent weeks, today’s speech by Fed Chair Yellen could be instrumental in setting the mood ahead of the June 15 FOMC meeting,” Rabobank strategist Jane Foley said in a report.
GROWTH OUTLOOK: Markets are also awaiting the latest U.S. quarterly growth figures to get a read on the health of the world’s biggest economy. Analysts expect the second of three estimates of gross domestic product will be revised up to an annual 0.8 percent rate in the January-March quarter. That’s higher than the initial 0.5 percent estimate last month. Economists expect growth to rebound to about 2 percent in the current quarter and get stronger as the year progresses.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4 percent to 16,834.84 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent to 1,969.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.9 percent to 20,576.77, but the Shanghai Composite Index dipped less than 0.1 percent to 2,821.05. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 5,405.90, and benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also rose.
CHINA CHALLENGE: Shanghai’s market struggled as disappointing data from the world’s second-biggest economy weighed on sentiment. Industrial profits rose 4.2 percent last month compared with the year-ago period, slower than the 11.1 percent increase in March, official data showed. It’s the latest sign of economic weakness in China, where growth slowed last year to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent and is expected to decelerate further this year.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 46 cents to $49.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped 8 cents on Thursday, when it traded above the $50 mark for the first time this year. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, is down 62 cents to $49.55 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar was down slightly, at 109.63 yen from 109.70 yen the day before. The euro fell to $1.1180 from $1.1195.