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Global markets sink ahead of Fed update on economy

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 future was off 0.4% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5%.

Global stock markets declined Tuesday as investors looked ahead to a Federal Reserve report for an update on when US stimulus might start winding down. London and Frankfurt opened lower while Shanghai and Hong Kong declined. Tokyo advanced. On Monday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose to a new record, shrugging off worries about the spread of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Investors awaited the Fed report Wednesday for signs of the central bank’s level of concern about inflation and when it might start rolling back easy credit and other economic stimulus. Minutes of the Fed meeting in June showed board members discussed how and when they might reduce monthly bond purchases that inject money into the financial system.

“We expect Jay Powell to reiterate that the tapering discussion is underway, but that it’s too soon to reveal a specific date,” Danielle DiMartino Booth of Quill Intelligence said in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.9% to 6,961.11 and the DAX in Frankfurt was off 0.9% at 15,471.67. The CAC 40 retreated 0.7% to 6,534.16. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 future was off 0.4% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5%. On Monday, the S&P 500 and Dow both gained 0.2%. The Nasdaq composite added less than 0.1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 2.5% to 3,381.18 as data-safety and other enforcement actions weighed on Chinese internet and other companies. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong tumbled 4.2% to 25,086.43, pulled down by China shares. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 0.5% to 27,970.22.

The Kospi in Seoul rose 0.2% to 3,232.53 after economic growth moderated to 0.7% over the previous quarter in the three months ending in June, down from previous quarter’s 1.7%. Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.5% to 7,431.40 and India’s Sensex sank 0.6% to 52,505.70. New Zealand, Bangkok and Jakarta, Indonesia, declined while Singapore advanced. Shares in Chinese companies sank after Beijing announced enforcement measures on technology and real estate and were reported to be considering restrictions on for-profit education ventures. Authorities say they need to protect public safety and financial stability, restrain surging housing costs and promote social welfare. But their abrupt orders shook investor confidence.

Beijing announced a 6-month campaign to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cyber security and “disturbing market order.” Internet giant Tencent Holding Ltd was ordered Saturday to end exclusive contracts with music copyright holders that market regulators said harmed competition. Companies have been fined for anti-monopoly offenses.

Tencent’s Hong Kong-traded shares fell 9% on Tuesday. E-commerce giant Alibaba Group lost 6.3% and JD Logistics Inc, an arm of online retailer JD.com, tumbled 11%. Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. shed 5.8% and computer and smartphone maker Lenovo Group lost 4.1%.

“A painfully sobering message may be: You can take the company listing out of China, but you can’t take China (risks) out of the company,’’ said Mizuho Bank in a report. “If unresolved, this may ultimately impair the ability of Chinese firms to raise global capital, a serious impediment to Beijing’s aspirations to grow global champions.”

US traders are looking for earnings reports from more large companies this week. Google’s parent, Alphabet, reports Tuesday. So do Apple and Microsoft. Pfizer and Boeing report Wednesday. Electric vehicle company Lucid Motors, now dubbed Lucid Group, rose 10.6% in its public debut after being bought by blank-check company Churchill Capital Corp.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude fell 6 cents to $71.85 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 16 cents to $71.91 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 5 cents to $73.75 per barrel in London. It rose 40 cents the previous session to $74.50. The dollar declined to 110.04 yen from Monday’s 110.39 yen. The euro fell to $1.1782 from $1.1800.

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