World Stocks Mixed as Wall Street Holds Steady Near Record Highs

HONG KONG (AP) -- Global markets were mixed on Wednesday after U.S. stocks held near their record levels in a quiet day of trading.

France's CAC 40 edged 0.1% higher in early trading to 7,952.76. Germany's DAX rose 0.2% to 17,589.14. Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.2% to 7,665.96.

The futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.3%.

In Asian trading, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% lower to 39,208.03.

Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai sank even after the territory's financial chief announced a budget aimed at boosting tourism and the property industry. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 1.5% to 16,536.85, while the Shanghai Composite sank 1.9% to 2,957.85.

China's largest private property developer, Country Garden, said Wednesday that it is facing a liquidation petition after failing to repay a term loan facility worth 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($204.5 million). The first hearing in the case is scheduled for May 17.

The move comes after China Evergrande, the world's most heavily indebted real estate developer, was ordered to undergo liquidation following a failed effort to restructure $300 billion in late January.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed at 7,660.40 after the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday the country's inflation rate held at a two-year low in January, triggering hopes that the Reserve Bank may cut its benchmark interest rate.

South Korea's Kospi gained 1% to 2,652.29, while Thailand's SET was down 0.8%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 added 0.2% was just off its all-time high set last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.2% and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4%.

Earnings reporting season is winding down for the big companies in the S&P 500, and the hope is that a remarkably solid U.S. economy will help profits grow through this year.

A report Tuesday morning showed orders for long-lasting manufactured goods were weaker last month than economists expected, but they were better than forecast after ignoring airplanes and other transportation items.

A separate report said that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly slipped. Confidence had been on the upswing, and it's a closely followed figure on Wall Street because consumer spending makes up the bulk of the U.S. economy.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 90 cents to $77.97 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 92 cents to $81.74 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 150.76 Japanese yen from 150.51 Japanese yen. The euro fell to $1.0805 from $1.0843.