European Shares Higher, Asia Mixed After US u-turn

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TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed Wednesday in a fitful rebound from the rout suffered earlier in the week.

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent to 5,187.38 in early trading, while Germany’s DAX added 0.6 percent to 12,470.39. Britain’s FTSE 100 surged 0.8 percent to 7,200.85. But U.S. shares were set to drift lower with Dow futures down 1.1 percent at 24,527. S&P 500 futures also dropped 1.1 percent, to 2,665.70.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged as soon as trading began, but gave up its initial gains as the yen strengthened against the dollar. It ended the day up only 0.2 percent at 21,645.37. The benchmark had tumbled as much as 7.1 percent on Tuesday before regaining some lost ground to close 4.7 percent lower.

In South Korea the Kospi, which saw only modest losses on Tuesday, fell back to close 2.3 percent lower at 2,396.53 as investors fretted over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy.

“It means that there are more investors with a negative view on the market in the long term,” said Oh Hyun-seok, a market analyst at Samsung Securities. “South Korean markets started higher in the morning but investors are more worried that U.S. markets will see further sell-offs tonight.”

Also Wednesday, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained nearly 0.8 percent to 5,876.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.9 percent to 30,323.20, while the Shanghai Composite lost 1.8 percent to 3,309.26 on heavy selling of banks and insurers.

It’s unclear if the global markets are really moving in “lockstep,” as some observers have suggested, but uncertainty abounds.

“While today would be crucial in seeing if the bulls can wrestle back control for Asian markets, it does appear that we have finally entered a period of increased volatility,” says Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

“This increased volatility had been one that the market was anticipating at the start of the year, but certainly took its time to arrive and may retain a spot in the market after this week’s tumultuous turn.”

The large share of foreign trading activity in Japan and some other regional markets raised the likelihood that losses seen in the U.S. may spill over into other regions. That’s less true for China, whose financial markets are more cloistered from international investors.

U.S. markets started lower after major indexes in Asia and Europe sank Tuesday, but a late surge helped them regain almost half the losses from their biggest plunge in 6 ½ years the day before.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 567 points right after trading began but eventually gained 567 points, adding 2.3 percent to 24,912.77.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, a broader market barometer tracked by many index funds, climbed 1.7 percent to 2,695.14. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.1 percent to 7,115.88.

Steep declines on Friday and Monday wiped out the gains the Dow and S&P 500 had made since the beginning of the year. But the Dow is up 24 percent in the past 12 months and the S&P 500 has gained 18 percent.

After Tuesday’s rebound the S&P 500 is still down 6.2 percent from the record high it set on January 26. That’s less than the 10 percent seen as a correction. Corrections are seen as entirely normal and even helpful in curbing excessive gains during bull markets. The last market correction ended almost two years ago.

Investors remain fearful that signs of rising inflation and higher interest rates could stifle the bull market that has pushed stocks to record high after record high in recent years.

Also Wednesday, U.S. crude oil added 29 cents to $63.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 76 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $63.39 a barrel in New York Tuesday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 25 cents to $67.11 a barrel in London.

In currency trading, the dollar fell to 109.02 yen from 109.54 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.2372 from $1.2377.

On Monday, the Dow finished down 4.6 percent, the biggest decline in percentage terms since August 2011, when investors were fretting over Europe’s debt crisis and the debt ceiling impasse in Washington that prompted a U.S. credit rating downgrade.