World stocks unsteady on dim growth outlook

Last Updated Sep 2, 2015 7:37 AM EDT

HONG KONG - World stocks were wobbly Wednesday on uncertainty over the economic outlook while China's markets minimized losses amid speculation Beijing was intervening to support prices.

European shares zigzagged between gains and losses, with France's CAC 40 down 0.4 percent to 4,523.07. Germany's DAX lost 0.3 percent to 9,980.04. Britain's FTSE slipped 0.5 percent to 6,029.33.

U.S. stocks were poised to open higher, with both Dow and S&P 500 futures rising 0.6 percent.

The Shanghai market was in focus on Wednesday, the last day of trading ahead of a two-day "patriotic" holiday to celebrate Japan's defeat in World War II. The index opened more than 4 percent lower, turned positive by midday and then ended the day slightly down. The volatile trading led some analysts to suspect Beijing was intervening to prop up share prices heading into the holiday. Other signs that Beijing was stepping in included a China Securities Journal report that said nine brokerages have pledged at least 30 billion ($4.7 billion) more yuan for stock buying, adding to 100 billion yuan put up by 50 brokerages on the weekend.

"The 'National Team' are out in force today in the Chinese markets," said Angus Nicholson, of IG Markets, referring to state-owned agencies that have been used to support the market. The government "has been busying itself in the stock markets, scaring off any bearish sentiment."

After the release dismal manufacturing data from China and the U.S. on Tuesday, investors will be poring over other U.S. economic data and the Fed's Beige Book survey of economic conditions due out later Wednesday. On Friday monthly U.S. jobs data will also provide further cues for investors while uncertainty over whether Federal Reserve officials, who meet Sept. 16-17, will raise rates continues to overshadow markets.

The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China finished 0.2 percent lower at 3,160.17. Other Asian benchmarks also swung between gains and losses. Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 1.2 percent to close at 20,934.94 while South Korea's Kospi ended nearly flat at 1,915.22. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.4 percent to 18,095.40. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 crept up 0.1 percent to 5,101.50.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a speech in Indonesia that global economic growth is likely to be weaker than expected. Asia is still expected to lead global growth, but the pace is slowing and could sag further because of recent financial market volatility. "Overall, we expect global growth to remain moderate and likely weaker than we anticipated in July," Lagarde said. That reflects "weaker-than-expected recovery in advanced economies and a further slowdown in emerging economies, especially Latin America," she said.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.09 to $44.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed at $45.41 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 88 cents to $48.68 in London.

The dollar rose to 119.81 yen from 119.68 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1279 from $1.1299.