World stock markets were mixed on Wednesday as traders took profits following recent gains that have sent indices to record or multi-year highs.
Optimism about the global economy and a string of positive earnings results have supported world equities in recent weeks.
The eurozone’s main markets Frankfurt and Paris were split, with the DAX 30 posting a small gain and the CAC 40 dipping.
Meanwhile, in London, the FTSE 100 eked out a small gain thanks to a weaker pound.
The focus was on US President Donald Trump, in Beijing to meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Trade, a thorny issue between the two since Trump’s election a year ago, will likely top the agenda along with the North Korea crisis.
“US stocks are lower in early action, with President Donald Trump’s tour of Asia garnering attention and bolstering global trade uncertainty, while the long road to tax reform continues to face market scrutiny,” said analysts at the Charles Schwab brokerage.
The Dow was still drifting a bit lower in late morning trade, but the Nasdaq had turned higher by then.
In London, SSE was the top early riser in London, with its share price jumping after the British energy supplier and German-owned Npower said they agreed to merge their businesses that heat and light up millions of UK households.
But SSE later traded down, closing the day 0.9 percent lower, as the group announced also a slump in profits.
Mining companies also helped boost London’s FTSE 100 index after the release of Chinese trading data.
“China’s import data last night gave trades a reason to buy mining companies like Glencore, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American,” said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets after imports soared by 17.2 percent in the mineral-hungry nation in October, beating expectations.
All the companies ended the day with gains.
Easing concerns about the North Korea crisis were offset by worries about the Middle East after Saudi Arabia accused Iran of “direct military aggression” over a Yemeni rebel missile attack near Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince had accused Iran of supplying missiles to the rebels, something which he said, “could be considered as an act of war”.
While the tensions had led to a spike in oil prices on Monday, a surprise rise in US stocks of crude oil reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday sent prices lower.
“A rise in US crude stockpiles provided the excuse oil longs needed to unload some of their profits, as the EIA data pointed to the first rise in two weeks,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at trading firm IG
On currency markets, the dollar took a step back against its major peers after a report said Trump’s much-vaunted corporate tax cuts could be delayed.
The Washington Post cited unnamed sources as saying Senate Republicans were considering putting off the cuts by a year to ease their cost and impact.
Trump’s tax cut promises had helped drive a rally in the dollar when they were released last month.
“Traders will be watching closely as the horse-trading continues in the week and weeks ahead,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.
FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,529.72 points (close)
DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 13,382.42 (close)
CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,471.43 (close)
DOW: DOWN 0.08 percent at 23,539.31
Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,913.82 (close)
Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 28,907.60 (close)
Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,415.46 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.09 percent at 3,655.37
Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.1588
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3100 from $1.3164 at 2200 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.58 from 114.00 yen
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 12 cents at $63.57 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate (WTI): DOWN 17 cents at $57.03 – (AFP)