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Global stocks cautious on lack of US aid plan

BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks and U.S. futures mostly declined Thursday as investors watched Washington for signs of whether political leaders can agree on an economic aid plan in the two weeks before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

U.S. political leaders are wrangling over economic aid following the expiration of extra unemployment benefits that propped up consumer spending. Democrats are pressing President Donald Trump’s Republicans to expand a proposed package.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said she made progress in talks with the White House. But a potential agreement might face opposition in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Republicans he warned the White House not to seal a relief deal before the election.

“Fiscal stimulus deal optimism has faded,” said analysts at Mizuho Bank in a report.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.2%. Europe fared slightly better, with the FTSE 100 in London edging up 0.1% to 5,780. Frankfurt’s DAX was up less than 0.1% to 12,565 and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.2% to 4,864.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4% to close at 3,312.50 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 0.7% to 23,474.27. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong ended up 0.1% at 24,786.13 after spending most of the day in negative territory.

The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.7% to 2,355.05 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 0.3% to 6,173.80. India’s Sensex lost 0.6% to 40,477.05.

Markets are swinging between optimism about possible development of a coronavirus vaccine and uncertainty about the U.S. economic outlook without an aid package.

Corporate earnings reports are mixed. While some technology companies have reported upbeat figures for the latest quarter, airlines on Thursday booked big losses. British Airways’ parent company IAG posted an operating loss of 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion), worse than expected. American Airlines said it lost $2.4 billion and Southwest Airlines lost $1.16 billion in the normally strong third quarter.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 33 cents to $40.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the contract fell $1.67 cents to $40.03 a barrel Wednesday. Brent crude, the price standard for international oils, added 37 cents to $42.10 per barrel in London. The contract declined $1.43 the previous session to $41.73 a barrel.

The dollar gained to 104.66 Japanese yen from Wednesday’s 104.55 yen. The euro declined to $1.1824 from $1.1862.

By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer

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