World Shares Drift Thursday

HONG KONG (AP) -- World stock markets were drifting Thursday as uneven earnings reports and a widely awaited European Central Bank meeting gave investors reason to pause.

KEEPING SCORE: European shares climbed in early trading. France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent to 5,383.98 and Germany's DAX edged up 0.1 percent to 12,968.38. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.2 percent to 7,465.51. Wall Street was poised to open lower. Dow futures slipped a fraction of a percent to 23,298.00 and broader S&P 500 futures dipped less than 0.1 percent to 2,557.40.

ECB: The European Central Bank's is expected to sketch out a plan to exit its extraordinary stimulus program at its policy meeting, which is shaping up to be the day's big market-moving event. The euro was rising as investors awaited a blueprint from the ECB's chief Mario Draghi's on phasing out its 60 billion euro ($71 billion) monthly bond purchase program. Attention is focused on whether it's going to be withdrawn more quickly or slowly than expected.

QUOTEWORTHY: "About the only thing that matters today is what Mario Draghi says at the ECB press conference later today," said Rob Carnell, ING's head of Asian research.

PROFIT AND LOSS: Investors were digesting the latest round of quarterly corporate earnings reports. In South Korea, automaker Hyundai Motors reported its net income plunged by a fifth in the July-September period, adding to a nearly four-year long losing streak, while LG Electronics reported a wider loss for its mobile division even as its overall business stayed profitable. Germany's Deutsche Bank reported that net income more than doubled on cost cuts and Finnish network operator Nokia posted a wider net loss. They follow shaky earnings reports from U.S. companies including telecom giant AT&T, aerospace company Boeing and chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices.

FED SHORTLIST: Anticipation is building for President Donald Trump's decision on who should lead the Federal Reserve once Chair Janet Yellen's term expires in February. His choice is expected before he leaves for an Asia trip on Nov. 3. In a TV interview, he praised Yellen but also acknowledged his conflicting desire to make his own mark. Among the four other candidates, Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn is now seen as out of the running.

ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged 0.2 percent higher to close at 21,739.78 while South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.5 percent to 2,480.63. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.4 percent to 28,202.38 but the Shanghai Composite in mainland China added 0.3 percent to 3,407.57. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,916.30. Taiwan's benchmark fell while Southeast Asian indexes were mixed.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 113.67 yen from 113.75 yen in late trading Wednesday. The euro edged up to $1.1814 from $1.1813.

ENERGY: Oil futures fell. Benchmark U.S. crude shed 5 cents to $52.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 29 cents to settle at $52.18 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, sank 18 cents to $58.26 per barrel in London.

(BE)