Global Stocks Drift as Yuan Stabilizes

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) --- Global stock markets drifted Friday as China's currency stabilized for a second day, easing uncertainty about its direction after an unexpected devaluation earlier in the week.

KEEPING SCORE: Europe started Friday on a positive note. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.2 percent to 6,579.68 and Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 11,031.37. France's CAC 40 added 0.1 percent to 4,990.99. Futures showed that Wall Street was set for a lackluster day. Dow futures fell 0.1 percent while S&P futures declined 0.2 percent.

CHINA CALM: The dollar was buying 6.3901 yuan, little changed from the previous change after Zhang Xiaohu, a deputy governor at People's Bank of China, said Thursday that there is "no basis for persistent and substantial devaluation." Zhang said the yuan is close to "market levels" after two days of declines. The yuan fell about 3 percent this week, beginning its slide on Tuesday after a surprise change in exchange rate policy, which roiled global financial markets and caused Asian stocks and currencies to tumble. Beijing said the change was aimed at making the tightly controlled currency more market-oriented.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 finished 0.4 percent lower at 20,519.45 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1 percent at 23,991.03. China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 3,965.33 Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.6 percent to 5,356.50. Financial markets in South Korea were closed for a holiday. Southeast Asian markets finished mostly higher.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Market sentiments are noticeably more composed today," said Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG. "However, there may not be any large positioning ahead of the weekend and any gains in the risk asset markets are expected to be modest."

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell further from a six-year low, down 18 cents at $42.05 per barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slipped fell $1.07 to close at $42.23 on Thursday, its lowest close since March 3, 2009. Brent crude, an international benchmark, was down 23 cents at $49.44 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 124.29 yen from 124.42 yen in the previous trading session. The euro fell to $1.1146 from $1.1154.

(KA)