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Weak China data tempers global markets

TOKYO - World stocks rose Tuesday but gains were tempered as a manufacturing survey underlined that China's economic growth is still losing momentum.

France's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent to 5,069.67 and Germany's DAX gained 0.3 percent to 11,930.19. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 7,051.62. Futures augured gains on Wall Street after Monday's sell-off: Both S&P 500 and Dow futures were up 0.3 percent.

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 above 50 indicate expansion. 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.

Traders continue to keep tabs on a meeting in Europe between the leaders of Greece and Germany for signs of progress in Greece's debt negotiations. Greece faces a cash crunch in the coming weeks and is in talks with its European lenders on what steps it must take to receive more loans.

Analysts say stock markets have underlying support from loose monetary policy around the world and are less jittery about upcoming Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, which are likely to very gradual. "The push towards record and multi-year highs in the equity market is likely to continue in the next three months, as the Fed is on hold till June and every other central bank has an easing bias," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG.

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 but other regional markets were down including indexes in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Benchmark U.S. crude was down 18 cents to $46.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dipped 24 cents to $47.21 on Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 10 cents to $55.82 in London.

The dollar was trading at 119.46 yen, down from 119.88 yen Monday. The euro rose to $1.0991 from $1.0952.

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