TOKYO - Global stocks fell Thursday in lackluster trading as investors awaited a speech by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen on Friday for hints on a possible further interest rate increase.
Germany’s DAX dropped 0.9 percent to 10,529 after a survey showed business confidence fell unexpectedly in August, possibly in a delayed reaction to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. The CAC 40 of France lost 0.7 percent to 4,403. The FTSE 100 of Britain fell 0.3 percent to 6,815.
Dow and S&P futures were both down 0.2 percent, suggesting Wall Street might extend losses following a selloff of drugmakers on Wednesday.
Outrage over price increases by Mylan for its EpiPens, medical devices used to deliver adrenaline to a patient suffering from a potentially fatal allergic reaction, have pulled pharmaceutical companies lower. Mylan bought the rights to the product in 2007 and has raised the price from roughly $100 for two pens to roughly $600. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued a statement Wednesday calling Mylan’s price increases “outrageous” and called for the company to slash prices for EpiPens.
Thursday morning, the drugmaker said it would expand programs that lower the cost of EpiPens.
Investors are awaiting Yellen’s speech at an annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Fed is expected to hold off on raising interest rates at its September meeting, but Yellen’s comments may offer clues on the likelihood and timing of a future hike.
“Low volumes and cautious trade are likely to dictate markets in the lead up to Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday,” Angus Nicholson of IG said in a market note.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent to 16,555.95, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.6 percent to 3,068.33. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was almost unchanged at 22,826.87 and South Korea’s Kospi was flat at 2,042.92. India’s Sensex lost 0.2 percent to 28,007.25, while shares in Southeast Asia were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4 percent to 5,541.90.
Benchmark crude oil fell 7 cents to $46.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.33 on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price oil internationally, edged 15 cents lower to $48.90 in London after falling 91 cents the day before.
The dollar weakened to 100.42 yen from 100.48 yen, while the euro rose to $1.1295 from $1.1263.