Futures

Global stocks limp as focus shifts back to China economy



TOKYO (AP) — Global stock markets were lackluster Tuesday despite a milestone for the Nasdaq as investors looked ahead to the release of China's growth target.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 added 0.2 percent to 4,928.49 and Germany's DAX gained 0.2 percent to 11,434.76. Britain's FTSE 100 edged up 0.3 percent to 6,958.07. U.S. shares were set to drift lower. Dow futures inched down 0.05 percent to 18,238. S&P 500 futures were down 0.1 percent at 2,111.50.

CHINA MEETING: China's ceremonial legislature starts its annual session on Thursday and is expected to announce a growth target for 2015. Last year's target was 7.5 percent, which China narrowly missed, posting growth of 7.4 percent that was the slowest in 24 years. There are expectations the target will be lowered to 7 percent this year as China manages a multiyear shift in its economy away from industrial led growth to more emphasis on consumers and services.

AUSTRALIA RATE: The Reserve Bank of Australia left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.25 percent, disappointing investors who expected it would be cut to a record low of 2 percent. The central bank cut the interest rate at its last meeting in early February, responding to a slowdown in Australia's economy triggered by reduced commodity demand from China. It left the door open to a rate cut or rate cuts later in the year.

NASDAQ MILESTONE: The Nasdaq composite marked a dot-com milestone Monday, closing above 5,000 for the first time since its dot-com era peak nearly 15 years ago. The Nasdaq, which rose 0.9 percent Monday, was once a symbol of investor recklessness and self-delusion, but it has been marked by significant changes in its composition. Telecommunications stocks now represent less than 1 percent of the index, versus 12 percent in 2000. Gone also is the heavy reliance on Internet companies with little or no earnings.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 inched down 0.1 percent to 18,815.16 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.7 percent at 24,702.78. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.4 percent to 5,933.90. Seoul's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,001.38. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 33 cents to $49.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 17 cents to close at $49.59 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 82 cents to $60.36 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 119.64 yen, down from its previous close of 120.14 yen. The euro rose to $1.1204 from $1.1183.


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