By ELAINE KURTENBACH
AP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were higher in Europe and Asia ahead of an update Friday on U.S. wholesale prices that will provide insights into how businesses are coping with inflation.
Germany’s DAX added 0.2% to 14,295.30 while the CAC 40 in Paris was nearly unchanged at 6,649.30. Britain’s FTSE 100 also was little changed, gaining less than 2 points to 7,474.82.
The future for the S&P 500 was up 0.2% while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.1% higher.
Chinese benchmarks rose Friday on reports the government is planning new measures to support the ailing property sector, which has been a severe drag on growth over the past several years.
Property shares got a boost from Sunac China Holdings’ announcement that it has made “considerable progress” in restructuring $9.1 billion of its $11 billion in offshore debts. More than a third of the total originally was to fall due by the end of the year.
Trading in Hong Kong of Sunac’s shares was suspended as of April 1. But other major property developers’ stocks jumped. Country Garden Holdings was up 8.5% and China Vanke’s shares jumped 5.6%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 2.3% to 19,900.87 while the Shanghai Composite index added 0.3% to 3,206.95.
The relaxation of some of the China’s “zero-COVID” rules is also raising hopes the economy will gain momentum, though experts say it will take months for tourism and other business to recover from the disruptions of the pandemic.
While outside experts had increasingly criticized China’s containment policy, which sought to isolate every case, as unsustainable, they have also warned that the country will now face a challenging first wave, as the loosened measures will no doubt fuel an increase of cases.
“Asian stocks are a bit higher, but full-out exuberance has been tempered by rising COVID cases and skepticism of the force of reopening economic tailwind that the current level of Asian risk assets implies,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 1.2% to 27,901.01 and the Kospi in Seoul rose 0.8% to 2,389.04. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.5% to 7,213.20.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.8%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite closed 1.1% higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5% and the Russell 2000 index of small caps added 0.6%.
Major indexes are all in the red for the week and have been swinging between big monthly gains and losses throughout the year. Investors’ worries about inflation, rising interest rates and recession risks have made for a volatile market. That has also left Wall Street focused on data points on the economy, especially those regarding inflation.
Activision Blizzard lost 1.5% after the Federal Trade Commission said it is suing to block Microsoft’s planned $69 billion takeover of the video game company, saying it could suppress competitors to its Xbox game consoles and its growing games subscription business. Microsoft rose 1.2%.
On Thursday, the U.S. reported slightly more Americans filed for jobless claims last week, but not as many as economists had forecast. The labor market remains one of the strongest pockets of the economy, which has been stifled under the weight of stubbornly hot inflation and rising interest rates.
Apart from the wholesale price update Friday, the University of Michigan will release its consumer sentiment survey for December.
Resilient consumer spending, which is partly tied to strong employment, has made the fight against inflation more difficult, raising the risks the Federal Reserve will go too far in raising interest rates. At the same time, it has been keeping the economy strong enough to avoid recession.
The Fed will meet next week and is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate — which now sits at 3.75% to 4%, the highest in 15 years — by a half-percentage point.
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 94 cents to $72.40 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It settled 0.8% lower at $71.46 per barrel on Thursday.
Brent crude added 87 cents to $77.02 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar slipped to 136.17 Japanese yen from 136.69 yen. The euro rose to $1.0564 from $1.0556.
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