Global Shares Mixed as China Exports Up

TOKYO (AP) -- European shares have opened higher after China reported its exports rose 3.5% in April from a year earlier as its factories and supply chains revived after pandemic shutdowns.

France’s CAC 40 gained 0.4% in early trading to 4,452.93. Germany’s DAX added 0.6% to 4,452.93. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5% to 5,880.53.

U.S. shares were set for gains, with Dow futures advancing 1.1% to 23,767. The future for the S&P 500 picked up 1.2%, to 2,868.62.

The Chinese trade data showed an encouraging rise in exports driven by electronics shipments and textiles, which included a surge in mask exports, Betty Wang of ANZ said in a report.

The data released Thursday show China’s exports to the United States rose 2.2% in April, while imports of American goods fell 11% in a reflection of weak Chinese industrial and consumer demand despite the lifting of most anti-virus controls.

Imports fell 13.7% from a year earlier to $179.6 billion, worse than the first quarter’s 2.9% decline. But total exports rose to $200.3 billion, a turnaround from the 13.3% contraction in the three months ending in March.

But forecasters warned that strength is unlikely to last as the coronavirus pandemic depresses global consumer demand.

Comments by President Donald Trump raising the possibility of further trade friction with Beijing have worried investors hoping for better times as other economies begin to reopen from pandemic shutdowns.

Trump said he would soon assess progress in a preliminary trade agreement with China that took effect in January, extending a truce in a painful tariffs war between the world’s two biggest economies.

The possibility of revived friction over trade at a time when economies have been slammed by the pandemic and resulting travel restrictions has rattled investors in Asia, where China is the main driver for regional growth.

“President Trump’s latest threat to impose additional tariffs on China could also bring some front-loading exports in the near term," Wang said.

Most Asian markets slipped Thursday, but Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225, reopening after Golden Week holidays, gained 0.3% to finish at 19,674.77.

South Korea's Kospi was little changed, inching down less than 0.1% to 1,928.61. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4% to 5,364.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.7% to 23,980.63, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.2% to 2,871.52.

A report Wednesday showing that private U.S. employers eliminated an astonishing 20.2 million jobs last month has set a dour stage for Friday’s more comprehensive monthly jobs report from the U.S. government.

Benchmark U.S. crude picked up 32 cents to $24.31 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 57 cents, or 2.3%, to $23.99 a barrel Wednesday.

Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 23 cents to $29.95 a barrel.

The dollar inched up to 106.48 Japanese yen from 106.13 yen Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.0785 from $1.0795.