A woman walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2020. Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street declined as worries about the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic tempered enthusiasm about possible vaccine development. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street declined as hopes for a possible coronavirus vaccine were tempered by worries about the pandemic's continuing impact.
London, Tokyo and Frankfurt retreated, while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.
Traders have been encouraged by announcements of progress toward a possible vaccine. But growing infection numbers in the United States and Europe have raised the threat of renewed restrictions on business and movement.
“The reality of rising COVID-19 cases got hold of financial markets,” Mizuho Bank said in a report.
In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.5% to 6,332.47 and the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.9% to 6,365.33. The CAC 40 in Paris declined 0.6% to 5,452.12.
On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 0.2%.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.5% after U.S. retail sales growth fell to 0.3% in October from September's 1.6%. The figure fell short of forecasts for 0.5% growth.
That was “a warning shot that COVID-19 is still with us, and its effects will not miraculously disappear overnight,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2% to 3,347.30 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.5% to 26,544.29.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.1% to 25,728.14 after October exports declined 0.2% from a year earlier.
The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.3% to 2,545.64 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4% to 6,531.10.
India's Sensex gained 0.4% to 44,127.85. New Zealand and Bangkok declined while other Southeast Asian markets advanced.
On Tuesday, the Dow fell 0.6% while the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.2%.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said the American economy has a “long way to go” before it returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Powell warned the “next few months may be very challenging." He said the Fed is committed to supporting a recovery.
Stocks that stormed higher this month on hopes that a vaccine or two may get the global economy back to normal next year receded.
Extra unemployment benefits that helped to support U.S. consumer spending have expired. Progress on a possible new aid plan in Congress is slow.
“The concern is that people will lose confidence in efforts to control the pandemic,” Powell said. “We’re seeing signs of that already.”
Pharmacy stocks were among the biggest decliners after e-commerce giant Amazon opened online sales to compete with them. Rite-Aid lost 16.3% and Walgreens Boots Alliance dropped 9.6%. Amazon ticked up 0.1%.
Tesla rose 8.2% following an announcement that it will join the S&P 500 index next month. It is set to become one of the biggest stocks in the index after soaring nearly 390% this year.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 14 cents to $41.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 9 cents on Tuesday to $41.43. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, gained 25 cents to $44.00 per barrel in London. It lost 7 cents the previous session to $43.75.
The dollar declined to 103.93 yen from Tuesday's 104.21 yen. The euro rose to $1.1885 from $1.1864.
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7 Stocks That Will Help You Forget About the Fed
Normally when the Federal Reserve (i.e. the Fed) makes an announcement, the market reacts predictably. That’s due, in large part, to the nature of what the Fed normally announces. Will interest rates go up, down, or remain unchanged? And for their part, the markets have a pretty good idea what the Fed will do before they do it.
But the Fed’s announcement of August 26 was a little different. They talked briefly about interest rates (they’re staying really low for a long time). But they were more concerned about inflation. Well, the Fed is always concerned about inflation, but this time they really mean it. Basic economics says that low-interest rates should spur inflation.
However, the market has been defying conventional wisdom and the Fed is not getting the inflation they want. So the Fed has basically said that they’re letting inflation go rogue. If it goes above their target 2% rate, so be it. The Fed is done trying to hit a target.
At first, the markets cheered the news. Not only was the Fed not taking away the punch bowl, but they were also going to keep the low rate liquidity going for a long time!
But after a little while to digest things, investors are realizing they have to be grown-ups about this. And now investors are considering how to rebalance their portfolios for the remainder of 2020.
I don’t know about them, but if I were you I would target companies that have a high free cash flow (FCF). Whether it’s your personal finances or in evaluating a stock, cash flow is your friend.
When a corporation has high FCF, they have more strong growth in good markets and more flexibility during when the economy is weaker.
As institutional investors come back into the market, it’s time for you to reposition your portfolio for whatever comes next.
View the "7 Stocks That Will Help You Forget About the Fed".