Global Benchmarks Advance as Markets Watch China, Inflation

TOKYO (AP) -- Global stocks mostly advanced Monday as investors weighed uncertainties such as the U.S. midterm elections and China's possible moves to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Oil prices fell and U.S. futures edged lower.

France's CAC 40 lost 0.4% to 6,391.90 in early trading, while Germany's DAX edged up nearly 0.1% to 13,470.68. Britain's FTSE 100 rose nearly 0.1% to 7,340.85. The future for the Dow industrials slipped 0.1% while the future for the S&P 500 edged up 0.2%.

China reported its trade shrank in October as global demand weakened and anti-virus controls weighed on domestic consumer spending. Exports declined 0.3% from a year earlier, down from September's 5.7% growth, the customs agency reported Monday. Imports fell 0.7%, compared with the previous month's 0.3% expansion.

Economists have been forecasting that the world's second-largest economy's trade will slow as global demand cools following interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to rein in surging inflation.

Speculation about a possible relaxation of China's zero-COVID strategy has had a huge impact on markets. On Monday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 2.7% to 16,595.91 and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2% to 3,077.85.

There has been no official confirmation in China of a major change.

"Over the weekend, Beijing has dashed hopes of China re-opening in the horizon, by reasserting of zero-COVID policies. And this could induce fresh caution," Tan Boon Heng at Mizuho Bank in Singapore said in a report.

In the U.S., Tuesday's election will decide control of Congress and key governorships. History suggests the party in power may suffer significant losses in the midterms, and decades-high inflation has become a significant issue for the Democrats.

Analysts say regional markets may take a wait-and-see approach ahead of the U.S. mid-term vote.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.2% to finish at 27,527.64. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 6,933.70. South Korea's Kospi gained nearly 1.0% to 2,371.79.

Shares rose in Taiwan and but edged lower in India.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.02 to $91.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 86 cents to $97.71 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 147.17 Japanese yen from 146.92 yen. The euro rose to 99.61 cents from 99.60 cents.