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Weak Chinese data weigh on global stocks

March 24, 2015

LONDON (AP) — A survey suggesting that China’s economic growth continues to lose momentum kept on global stock markets in check Tuesday while signs of an economic rebound in the 19-country eurozone helped shore up the euro.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 added 0.2 percent to 5,066 while Germany’s DAX gained 0.1 percent to 11,905. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent to 7,046. Wall Street was poised for modest gains at the open with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent.

CHINA WORRIES: China’s manufacturing fell to the lowest level in nearly a year as new orders shrank. HSBC’s preliminary manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers dropped to an 11-month low of 49.2 in March, from February’s 50.7. The index is based on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction. China’s economy expanded 7.4 percent last year, its slowest pace in nearly a quarter century, and economists predict growth will slow further this year and the next.

EUROZONE ON THE UP: In contrast, figures for the eurozone suggested that the region’s recovery may be gaining momentum. In its monthly survey, financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers’ index for the region rose to 54.1 points in March from 53.3 in February. That was higher than the 53.6 anticipated in the markets and puts the index at its highest level since May 2011. The euro rallied on the news to trade 0.3 percent higher at $1.0982.

ANALYST TAKE: “This news also had the important consequence of drawing focus back onto the eurozone’s positives, rather than the ongoing Greek saga that dominated proceedings throughout Monday,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.

LUFTHANSA/AIRBUS: Confirmation that an Airbus A320 passenger jet carrying 148 people crashed in the French Alps as it flew from Barcelona to Duesseldorf hit the share prices of German airliner Lufthansa as well as Airbus. The flight was operated by Germanwings, a lower-cost unit of Lufthansa. Lufthansa shares were 4.5 percent lower while Airbus stock was 2.2 percent lower.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 0.2 percent to close at 19,713.45. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,041.37. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank 0.4 percent to 24,399.60 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.1 percent to 3,691.41. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,969.10.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 31 cents to $47.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 7 cents to $55.85 in London.

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