World stocks subdued as Wall Street eyes new record highs

BANGKOK — Stock markets were subdued in Europe and Asia on Wednesday as investors look to corporate earnings for clues on whether the S&P 500 will hit another all-time record close.

The FTSE 100 in Britain lost 0.3% to 7,502 while the CAC 40 in France was flat at 5,590. The DAX in Germany gained 0.8% to 12,336. On Wall Street, the future contract for the Dow was up 0.1% while the S&P 500 future contract was roughly flat.

The lackluster start for the day followed news that a U.S. delegation will visit Beijing next week to continue trade negotiations. Chinese officials will visit Washington for more talks starting May 8.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the U.S. side in the talks beginning April 30.

They are aimed at resolving a dispute over Beijing's technology policies and other issues that has clouded the economic outlook and shaken financial markets.

Investors seem to have turned slightly more cautious after the S&P 500's all-time high on Tuesday, which marked the market's complete recovery from a nosedive at the end of last year. The S&P 500 index gained 0.9%, to 2,933.68. Its previous record high was 2,930.75, which was set on Sept. 20.

The benchmark S&P 500's previous record was set last September, shortly before the market sank in the fourth quarter amid fears of a recession, an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China, and concern the Federal Reserve was moving too aggressively to raise interest rates.

Those concerns have eased or taken a back seat this year to more optimism among investors, who seem more optimistic about the global economy and Fed policy after the central bank signaled it might not raise interest rates at all in 2019.

So far, stocks have been lifted by relatively strong earnings results and optimistic corporate forecasts. On Wednesday, investors will keep an eye out for the quarterly report from Boeing in particular for updates on the fate of the company's best-selling plane and when it might fly again.

Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3% to 22,000.00 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.5% to 29,805.03. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1% higher to 3,201.61 and the Kospi in South Korea gave up 0.9% to 2,201.03. Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 1% to 6,382.10. India's Sensex climbed 0.2% to 38,621.09. Shares fell in Indonesia but rose in Singapore and Taiwan.

ENERGY: U.S. crude lost 37 cents to $65.93 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 1.1% to settle at $66.30 per barrel on Tuesday. Oil has been climbing since dropping below $43 in late December. Brent crude declined 17 cents to $74.34 per barrel. It rose 0.6% to close at $74.51 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.85 Japanese yen from 111.87 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.1206 from $1.1227.

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