European shares mixed, euro slips with ECB in focus

Currency traders talk near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive U.S. earnings reports reassured investors that the world’s largest economy was on track. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A currency trader stands near the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive U.S. earnings reports reassured investors that the world’s largest economy was on track. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A currency trader watches computer monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive U.S. earnings reports reassured investors that the world’s largest economy was on track. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A currency trader talks on the phone at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday as positive U.S. earnings reports reassured investors that the world’s largest economy was on track. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SINGAPORE — World markets mostly rose Thursday as investors awaited comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on the economic outlook.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX gained 0.5 percent to 11,130 and the CAC 40 in France rose 0.8 percent to 4,878. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 6,843. On Wall Street, the futures contract for the broad S&P 500 index was up 0.1 percent while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was steady.

ECB WATCH: The ECB wrapped up its first policy meeting of 2019. The bank said it did not change its interest rates or expectations for when rates might start rising. But investors will be looking to the tone of comments by Draghi for clues as to how the ECB is responding to weaker economic growth in Europe and beyond.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Will ECB President Mario Draghi acknowledge the darkening clouds today? Lowering growth and inflation projections may provide a sell signal to the euro, but Draghi's speech today may have even more impact on the single currency," Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM, said in a commentary.

THE DAY IN ASIA: Strong fourth-quarter earnings by big American companies like IBM, Proctor & Gamble and United Technologies buoyed share prices in Asia. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.4 percent to 2,591.69 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 2,145.03. Hong Kong's Hang Seng picked up 0.4 percent to 27,120.98. Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 5,865.70. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 0.1 percent to 20,574.63. Shares rose in Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore but fell in Malaysia.

CHINA TALK: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan took aim at the U.S. in pointed comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Wang said that "Shifting blame for one's own problems onto others will not resolve the problems," alluding to a trade war with Washington that has both sides imposing heavy taxes on each other's imports. Wang said China still has "enormous market potential" despite its recent worse-than-anticipated slowdown.

JAPAN PMI: On Thursday, a private survey suggested that Japanese manufacturing had slowed in January. The Markit/JMMA flash purchasing managers' index fell to 50.0 from December's 52.6. Readings above 50 indicate expansion on the index's 100-point scale. The survey found that key output and new orders contracted while exports slumped further. A day earlier, Japan released weaker-than-expected trade data for December, with exports registering its largest drop in two years, mostly due slowing demand in China.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil fell 41 cents to $52.21 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 39 cents to $52.62 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 60 cents to $60.54 per barrel. It lost 36 cents to $61.14 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 109.75 yen from 109.61 yen late Wednesday. The euro slipped to $1.1344 from $1.1381.

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