Global Shares Mixed in Choppy Trading Amid Inflation Worries

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares were mixed in choppy trading Thursday, as inflation worries and the war in Ukraine left investors cautiously optimistic.

European shares were mostly higher in early trading after a mixed session in Asia. Oil prices advanced and U.S. futures were higher.

The Japanese yen slipped slightly against the U.S. dollar.

The situation in Ukraine remained fraught as Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to claim victory in the strategic port of Mariupol, even as he ordered his troops not to storm the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the war's iconic battleground.

France's CAC 40 gained 1.5% in early trading to 6,727.22, while Germany's DAX added 1.1% to 14,516.80. Britain's FTSE 100 inched down less than 0.1% to 7,625.70. The future for the Dow industrials adding 0.6% while the S&P 500 future was 0.8% higher.

Markets have been focusing on corporate earnings to see how companies are dealing with rising inflation and cost pressures. Inflation has been pressuring a wide range of industries and increasingly squeezing consumers.

Investors also were awaiting a panel discussion Thursday with U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Shanghai's benchmark fell 2.3%, to 3,079.81, after Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled no change in his government's stringent "zero-COVID" policies despite their growing impact on the slowing economy.

Speaking at a forum of Asian leaders, Xi called for more stringent international efforts to combat coronavirus outbreaks. He also said his government supports talks to resolve international disputes and opposes the use of sanctions.

He did not mention the weeks-long lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities or the costs of that strategy but sought to reassure the world the country is still committed to opening its economy, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

"China's markets continue to underperform, weighed down by growth fears and the COVID-zero policy on the mainland, while U.S. delisting fears on dual-listed equities continue to hamstring Hong Kong markets," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.2% to finish at 27,553.06. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3% to 7,592.80. South Korea's Kospi surged 0.4% to 2,728.21. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 1.3% to 20,682.22.

New Zealand's benchmark edged 0.1% lower after the government reported the inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 6.9%, driven by housing and gas. Statistics New Zealand said the cost of building new homes was up 18% compared to a year earlier, while gas prices were up 32%. The annual increase in prices was the highest since 1990, the agency said. Inflation has been rising in developed nations, including in the U.S., where it hit a four-decade high of 8.5% in March.

Rising prices have prompted the Federal Reserve and other central banks, including New Zealand's, to raise interest rates to temper inflation's impact. The Fed has already announced a quarter-percentage point rate hike and Wall Street expects a half-percentage rate hike at its next meeting in two weeks.

In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude added 71 cents to $102.90 a barrel. It rose 0.2% on Wednesday and is now up nearly 40% for the year. Brent crude, the international standard, jumped 98 cents to $107.78 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 128.11 Japanese yen from 127.89 yen. The euro cost $1.0919, up from $1.0847.