World stocks uneven as investors mull corporate earnings

Pedestrians walk past a share price board of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on July 21, 2015.


HONG KONG - Global stock markets were uneven Tuesday as investors digested a wave of quarterly corporate earnings reports that will provide guidance on the state of the world economy.

European stocks were lower in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent at 6,782.25 and France's CAC 40 lost 0.2 percent to 5,133.44. Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 11,728.09. U.S. stocks were poised for a slow open: Both Dow and S&P futures were flat.

Now that the Greek crisis is fading from view and China's stock market plunge has abated, investors are taking the pulse of the global economy in the form of second-quarter corporate results. European companies reporting Tuesday included Swiss drug giant Novartis, which said quarterly income fell by a third. That came after results Monday from U.S. companies including toy maker Hasbro, oil and gas company Halliburton and investment bank Morgan Stanley, which all reported better than expected earnings.

Japanese and Australian central bank policymakers were assessing economic conditions in their countries, according to minutes from meetings released Tuesday. The Reserve Bank of Australia worried about recent turbulence in China's stock markets and Greece's debt crisis. In Japan, some Bank of Japan members worried that the effects of its unprecedented monetary policy may be "diminishing," Kyodo news reported. However, neither bank made any changes to ultra-low interest rates aimed at spurring growth.

"The bottom line is that the world remains in a sort of messy sweet spot for investors," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, Australia, wrote in a report. "Growth is not flash but okay, inflation is low and monetary conditions overall are set to remain easy."

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.9 percent to close at 20,841.97 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 2,083.62. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6 percent to 25,536.43. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China rose 0.6 percent to 4,017.67, though in a sign of continuing volatility it weaved in and out of positive territory. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.4 percent to 5,706.70.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 38 cents to $49.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 74 cents to close at $50.15 a barrel in New York on Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 15 cents to $56.50 in London.

The dollar edged up to 124.32 yen from 124.31 in late trading Monday. The euro rose to $1.0854 from $1.0832.