Wall Street pre-bell Thursday is leaning forward, with U.S. stock index futures pointing to an opening bell up from Thursday's close. European bourses are mixed, with the European Central Bank slated to issue its monetary policy decision at 7:45 am ET, followed by a press session with President Mario Draghi 45 minutes later. Asia closed mixed, and oils are showing some strength, trading around $46.50 a barrel.
On the economic calendar is the weekly jobless claims bulletin at 8:30 am, then natural gas inventories at 10:30 am, and the much-watched crude oil inventories report at 11:00 am. There is a 3:00 pm consumer credit release.
In Europe the British FTSE 100 is up 0.38%; the Euronext 100 is down 0.18%; the French CAC 40 is down 0.07%; and the German Dax is down 0.22%.
In futures, the S&P 500 is up 0.08%; the Nasdaq is up 0.04% and the Dow is up 0.06%.
Asian stock markets Thursday delivered more choppy sessions, with Hong Kong and Shanghai gaining on better-than-expected mainland China trade figures, while Tokyo retreated again on the yen outlook. Other regional exchanges were mixed, though Sydney fell 0.71% on soft blue-chips and Bangkok stepped down 1.65%.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Thursday stayed in pattern of decline on fears of a stronger yen against the U.S. dollar, regarded as a negative in the export-oriented economy.
The Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Hiroshi Nakaso said that expanding the central bank's negative interest rate policy is the prime instrument to attaining a 2% inflation target, a stance that disappointed critics calling for "helicopter drops" of central-bank financed fiscal outlays. Additionally, Nakaso said targeting a cheaper yen was not BoJ policy.
In other news, the government revised to 0.7% the Q2 real GDP YOY growth figure, compared with a slight 0.2% expansion in preliminary data.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 53.67 to 16,958.77, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 135 to 81.
The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index rose 0.75%, extending recent bullish sentiments after an official bulletin showing mainland Chinese imports rose in August for the first time in nearly two years, while exports fell less-than-expected. In Chinese yuan terms, August exports rose almost 6% YOY, while imports increased 11%. In U.S. dollar terms, China August exports fell 3% YOY, while imports edged up 1.5%.
The broad gauge Hang Seng rose 177.53 to 23,919.34, as gaining issues outnumbered losers 38 to six.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.13% to 3,095.95.
On the other exchanges, the S, Korean Kospi gained 0.09%; the Taiwan TWSE rose 0.04%; the Australian ASX 200 declined 0.71%; the Singapore Straits Times Index rose 0.03%; and the Thai Set fell 1.65%, partly on profit-taking. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was up 0.41%.
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