Global Stocks Decline as Chinese Shares Fluctuate Despite Moves to Help Markets

Global Stocks Decline as Chinese Shares Fluctuate Despite Moves to Help Markets
A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 5, 2024. (Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo)
The Associated Press

HONG KONG—World stocks were mixed on Monday, with Chinese shares again leading declines in Asia even after the market regulator in Beijing pledged to crack down on abuses and protect small investors.

In European markets, Germany’s DAX was 0.1 percent higher at 16,927.75 and the CAC 40 in Paris was nearly unchanged at 7,590.55.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent to 7,643.10 after a report showed UK’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in the three months to November, lower than an earlier estimate of 4.2 percent provided by the Office for National Statistics in January.

The futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 0.2 percent lower.

In Asian trading, the main index in the smaller market in Shenzhen sank 4.4 percent but then rapidly recovered, bouncing between losses and gains and closing 1.1 percent lower. The Shanghai Composite index slipped 3.5 percent at one point and closed 1 percent lower, at 2,702.19.

On Sunday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said it would redouble enforcement of measures against crimes such as market manipulation and “malicious” short selling, while guiding more medium and long-term funds into the market.

That move followed others in recent days that appear to have done little to reassure investors who have been pulling money out of the markets for months. Last week, Chinese stocks capped their worst week in five years.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.2 percent lower to 15,510.01.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.6 percent to 36,354.16.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 1 percent to 7,625.90. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.9 percent to 2,591.31.

On Friday, Big Tech stocks once again carried Wall Street to a record, even though the majority of stocks fell due to renewed worries about risks of a hot economy.

Big gains for Meta Platforms and Amazon helped the S&P 500 gain 1.1 percent. It has been in a torrid run where it’s climbed in 13 of the last 14 weeks. The Big Tech stocks, which are two of Wall Street’s most influential, also pushed the Nasdaq composite up by 1.7 percent.

But the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has less of an emphasis on tech, rose by a more modest 0.3 percent.

Stocks felt pressure from much higher yields in the bond market after a report showed U.S. employers hired many more workers last month than economists expected.

That’s great for workers and helps keep the risk of a recession at bay, but it could preserve some upward pressure on inflation and lead the Federal Reserve to wait longer before it begins cutting interest rates.

Hopes for such cuts, which can relax the pressure on the economy and goose investment prices, have been a major reason the U.S. stock market has surged to record heights. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said earlier this week that it’s unlikely cuts will begin as soon as traders had been hoping.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost 36 cents to $71.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 26 cents to $77.07 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 148.49 Japanese yen from 148.40 yen. The euro cost $1.0754, down from $1.0784.