Global Stocks Mostly Decline Friday

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares mostly declined Friday as investors looked to a key U.S. jobs report due later in the day to gauge the health of the economy and see what the Federal Reserve might do on interest rates.

France's CAC 40 declined 1.3% in early trading to 8,042.05, while Germany's DAX slipped 1.4% to 18,153.11. Britain's FTSE 100 shed nearly 1.0% to 7,898.31. U.S. shares were set to trade mixed with Dow futures down 0.2% at 38,988.00, while S&P 500 futures rose 0.3% to 5,213.25.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dove 2.0% to finish at 38,992.08. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.6% to 7,773.30. South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.0% to 2,714.21. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed at 16,723.92.

Tensions in the Middle East added to the sense of pessimism. But some analysts suggested the Fed may cut rates at least once later this year.

"Already there are distinct signs of cooling in economic activity and conditions for sustained wage pressures," said Tan Jing Yi at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

Jin Kenzaki and other analysts at Societe Generale Group believe that Chinese and other Asian shares will likely remain strong this month.

"Japan is a major beneficiary of no recession in the U.S., with exporters leading the equity rally," their report said.

Traders had already drastically scaled back their predictions for how many cuts to interest rates the Federal Reserve would deliver this year, down from six at the start of the year to three more recently. That had them in line with Fed officials generally.

But several recent updates on the economy have come in hotter than expected. A report earlier this week showing a surprise return to growth for U.S. manufacturing raised concerns.

Wall Street is looking for the job market to cool enough to remove upward pressure on inflation, but not so much that it throws too many people out of work and causes a recession.

That's why anticipation is high for the report coming Friday, where the U.S. government will show how much hiring happened across the country last month. Economists expect it to show a cooldown in March from February.

In the oil market, a barrel of benchmark U.S. oil fell 16 cents to $86.43 a barrel. It rose $1.16 to settle at $86.59 Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 3 cents to $90.68.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 151.43 Japanese yen from 151.30 yen. The euro cost $1.0845, inching up from $1.0841.