August 16, 2022

Global Markets Treading Water

LONDON — Global shares traded in narrow ranges Friday as investors braced for the results of stress tests on European banks intended to show how they would weather another sharp recession. But Wall Street looked set for a higher opening after Citicorp announced better-than-expected earnings.

The European stress tests are meant to show the banks’ exposure to shaky government bonds, currently a big source of uncertainty for markets as Greece looks increasingly likely to default on its debt.

The European Union hopes the transparency will build confidence in stronger banks and push weaker ones to raise new capital, merge or restructure.

But traders were cautious, since the results wouldn’t be released until after European markets close for the weekend. The FTSE index of leading British shares was down 0.1 percent at 5,840, while Germany’s DAX lost 0.3 percent to 7,195. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.5 percent to 3,734.

Investors seemed unmoved so far by a Standard Poor’s warning that it might downgrade its credit rating on United States’ debt. President Barack Obama is locked in a battle with Congress over raising the debt ceiling — necessary if Washington is going to meet its obligations.

After days of falling against the euro, the dollar was flat, and the yields, or interest rates, on 10-year Treasuries barely budged.

“The Treasury market is positively Teflon when it comes to the debt mountain in the U.S.,” said Jane Foley of Rabobank. “Even if the Treasury market remains immune to what is a potential debt crisis in the U.S., it is clear that there is little left in the public purse to stimulate growth and jobs creation.”

The Dow Jones industrial average fell Thursday after remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke dimmed hopes for a third round of monetary stimulus.

Citigroup said it turned a profit for the sixth straight quarter as losses from failed loans declined. Net income rose 24 percent to $3.3 billion, or $1.09 cents per share, on revenue of $20.6 billion.

Oil prices fell to near $95 a barrel after Mr. Bernanke’s comments. But benchmark oil for August delivery was up 12 cents to $95.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Trading earlier in Asia was also muted. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average gained 0.4 percent to close at 9,974.47, recovering slight losses with investors largely on the sidelines. Monday is a national holiday in Japan.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.3 percent to 21,875.38 while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.7 percent to 2,145.20. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 percent to 2,820.17.

In currencies, the euro was virtually unchanged for the day at $1.4148.

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