Worries over Doha oil meeting weighing on markets

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The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets were largely lower Friday ahead of a raft of U.S. economic figures and a weekend of international meetings, including one of oil producers in Doha, Qatar.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.5 percent to 6,334 while Germany’s DAX was down 0.5 percent at 10,040. The CAC-40 in France was 0.5 percent lower at 4,488. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 percent.

US DATA: There’s a raft of U.S. economic reports due that could influence markets if they have a bearing on when traders think the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again. Though the Fed has opted against following on December’s interest rate rise — the first in nearly a decade — in light of volatility in global markets in the early part of the year, it has left the door open to another hike soon. Consumer sentiment figures from the University of Michigan, the Empire survey of manufacturing around the New York region and industrial production figures from the Fed itself will be assessed in that light.

BUSY WEEKEND: Traders will also be monitoring the meeting of financial ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 leading industrial nations in Washington. Perhaps more importantly will be the meeting in Doha of the OPEC oil cartel and non-OPEC members like Russia. Expectations of a production cut or freeze that might support prices have diminished over the week.

MARKET TAKE: “A tangible sense of apprehension has swept across global markets today, with traders unwilling to hold positions into the weekend given the clear risk of events in Doha on Sunday,” said Joshua Mahoney, market analyst at IG.

ENERGY: Expectations earlier this week that a deal may emerge in Doha had helped oil prices rally to 2016 highs. However, as those have diminished so have oil prices. The benchmark New York rate was down 91 cents at $40.59 a barrel while Brent, the international standard fell 94 cents to $42.90.

CHINA GROWTH: Much of the interest in the Asian trading session centered on Chinese figures showing that growth in the latest quarter eased to 6.7 percent, its lowest in seven years. However, there were few surprises for investors, as the figures were largely as forecast and suggest that the world’s second-largest economy is on track to meet the official full-year growth target.

ASIAN SCORECARD: The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan shed 0.4 percent to close at 16,848.03, while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1 percent to 2,014.71. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 21,316.47 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China eased 0.1 percent to 3,078.12. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.7 percent to 5,224.10.

CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.1284 while the dollar fell 0.5 percent to 108.86 yen.

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This story has been corrected to show China is the world’s second-largest economy.

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