World Markets Mostly Lower Thursday

HONG KONG (AP) -- Most world stock markets fell Thursday as investors assessed the final congressional approval of a sweeping U.S. tax revamp and awaited a Spanish regional election aimed at resolving months of political uncertainty. Chinese markets advanced after leaders vowed to increase imports and reduce financial risks amid slowing economic growth and pressure to open its markets wider.

KEEPING SCORE: European shares fell in early trading. France's CAC 40 shed 0.5 percent to 5,328.12 and Germany's DAX sank 0.2 percent to 13,037.52. Britain's FTSE 100 rose less than 0.1 percent to 7,529.24. Wall Street was poised for a mixed open. Dow futures dipped 0.1 percent to 24,721.00 and broader S&P 500 futures were practically unchanged at 2,681.80

TAX PASSAGE: The U.S. Congress passed President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, which brings generous cuts for corporations and rich Americans. Trump boasted that it would provide "rocket fuel" for growth in the world's biggest economy, though judging from the market reaction investors appear to have anticipated the result.

MARKET INSIGHT: "President Trump is now just a pen stroke away from overhauling the tax code," said Hussein Sayed, chief strategist at FXTM. "Interestingly there isn't any fireworks on the announcement of Trump's Christmas gift; because as expected, the good news is already priced in."

CHINA ECONOMY: The Central Economic Work Conference, led by President Xi Jinping, is a throwback to China's era of central planning and plays an important role in setting development goals for the state-dominated economy. A statement issued after the three-day annual planning meeting contained no new initiatives and was in line with the ruling Communist Party's plans to make the economy more efficient while also building up state industries.

JAPAN POLICY: The Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged at its final meeting for 2017, signaling it will rely on recovering growth to help drive inflation higher. The key policy rate remains at minus 0.1 percent and massive asset purchases by the central bank are set to continue for as long as is needed to help attain a inflation target of 2 percent. The BOJ said inflation expectations were still in a "weakening phase."

CATALAN VOTE: Voting was underway in Spain's Catalonia in an election intended to break a bitter deadlock of the region's independence drive. Some 5.5 million eligible voters will choose regional representatives to replace those sacked after separatist lawmakers declared independence in October.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.1 percent to close at 22,866.10 and South Korea's Kospi sank 1.7 percent to 2,429.83. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent to 29,367.06 and the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.4 percent to 3,300.06. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 6,060.40. India's Sensex was flat at 33,791.26. Taiwan's benchmark dipped and Southeast Asian indexes were mixed.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.50 Japanese yen from 113.40 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1879 from $1.1870.

ENERGY: Oil futures were mixed. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 10 cents to $57.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 53 cents to $58.09 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 24 cents to $64.32 a barrel in London

(BE)