Stock markets tread water as investors eye US-China talks
Global stock markets moved mostly sideways on Thursday as hopes that China and the United States would reach a breakthrough in trade talks was counteracted as nervous investors took profits.
Investors in British assets were cautious as they weighed the chances that Britain would crash out of the EU without a deal next week, with both the pound and the London stock market posting losses.
High-level talks between China and the United States continued in Washington, although the White House signaled late in the afternoon the two sides were still a way from a done deal following this round of talks, which continue Friday.
President Donald Trump, who met with Beijing's trade envoy Liu He, said that the talks were "looking very good" but that the two sides needed more time.
"We will probably know over the next four weeks. It may take two weeks after that," Trump told reporters.
Yet, nine months into the two countries' trade war, the announcement was anticlimactic, as the White House had earlier stoked anticipation that Trump could announce a date for a summit to clinch a final deal with his Chinese counterpart.
The Dow and S&P 500 both notched modest gains, while the Nasdaq edged lower.
Earlier, London and Paris both dipped, while Frankfurt advanced, shrugging off weak German industrial orders data.
In London, the government redoubled its efforts on Thursday to win over the main opposition party in a last-gasp bid to avoid a chaotic exit from the European Union next week.
The latest round of cross-party talks came after lawmakers tried to safeguard against a doomsday ending to the 46-year membership in Europe by fast-tracking a bill Wednesday night seeking to delay Brexit.
The premier has already said she will seek a second "short" delay at an EU summit on April 10.
Parliament remains divided with hardliners fearing a "soft" divorce will leave Britain still linked to the bloc.
The pound slid against both the dollar and the euro "as markets considered the prospect of the Brexit fog thickening and lasting longer," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.
- Key figures around 2100 GMT -
New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 26,384.63 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 2,879.39 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,891.78 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,401.94 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 11,988.01 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,463.80 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,441.93 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 21,724.95 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 29,936.32 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 3,246.57 (close)
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3077 from $1.3158 at 2100 GMT on Wednesday
Euro/pound: UP at 85.82 pence from 85.35 pence
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1221 from $1.1233
Dollar/yen: UP at 111.66 yen from 111.49 yen
Oil - Brent Crude: UP 9 cents at $69.40 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 36 cents at $62.10
© Agence France-Presse
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