World Stocks Mixed on Variant Risks

SINGAPORE (AP) -- World stocks were mixed Wednesday as concerns about the risk of the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus set in.

Wall Street positioned for losses, with futures for the S&P 500 index slipping 0.1% to 4,410.75 despite expectations of continued strong corporate earnings. Those for the Dow also shed 0.1% to 34,955.00.

European traders were more upbeat. France's CAC 40 added 0.5% in early trading to 6,757.93 while Germany's DAX was 0.7% higher at 15,658.05. The FTSE 100 in Britain picked up 0.3% to 7,128.05.

The European rises followed a buoyant Asian session, in which indexes shrugged off a coronavirus outbreak in China.

While China's current outbreak is relatively small, it is the worst it has had since the pandemic's emergence in the central city of Wuhan a year and a half ago.

The Kospi in South Korea rose 1.3% to 3,280.38, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 0.9% to 26,426.55. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.9% to 3,477.22.

Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.4% higher at 7,503.20. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2% to 27,584.08, however.

Shares rose elsewhere in Asia with the exception of Malaysia. “It may be that markets are astutely betting on rising vaccinations dampening COVID risks. But the danger is if it is merely a case of solid U.S. earnings papering over COVID risks,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank.

Corporate earnings have boosted sentiments ahead of U.S. jobs data due Friday. Roughly nine out of 10 companies on the S&P 500 index have posted earnings that beat analysts' expectations. Over 100 more companies will announce results this week.

However, concerns are brewing over a Chinese crackdown on technology companies, Edward Moya of Oanda said.

"US-listed Chinese companies are getting battered as some investors don't have the stomach for this regulatory shakedown,” he added.

Shares of the Nasdaq-listed Alibaba Group slipped 1.4% on Tuesday. Internet search giant Baidu Inc. fell 1.5%. Both companies were set for gains at Wednesday's opening bell.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude added 1 cent to $70.57 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, gained 17 cents to $72.58 per barrel in London.

The U.S. dollar advanced to 109.18 yen from 109.05 yen on Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1852 from $1.1868.