Global Benchmarks Mostly Climb Despite Worries About US Economy

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares mostly rose Friday despite worries about the economic outlook and inflation in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

France's CAC 40 edged up 0.3% in early trading to 8,044.04, while Germany's DAX added 0.8% to 18,052.68. Britain's FTSE 100 rose nearly 0.4% to 8,108.91. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures gaining 0.2% to 38,348.00. S&P 500 futures rose 0.8% to 5,121.75.

The Bank of Japan ended a policy meeting with no major changes, keeping its benchmark interest rate in a range of 0 to 0.1%. In March, it raised the key rate from minus 0.1%, citing signs that inflation had reached the central bank's target of about 2%.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.8% to 37,934.76, while the U.S. dollar edged up to 156.45 Japanese yen from 155.58 yen.

Although a weak yen is a boon for giant Japanese exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp., whose overseas earnings are boosted when converted into yen, some Japanese officials, including Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, have raised concerns that an overly weak currency is not good for the Japanese economy in the long run.

In other currency trading, the euro cost $1.0746, up from $1.0733.

"The yen's downward trajectory remains unabated. Notably, the reluctance to intervene directly in the foreign exchange market raises doubts among investors regarding the government's commitment to support the yen," said Luca Santos, currency analyst at ACY Securities.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.4% to 7,575.90. South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.1% to 2,656.33. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 2.1% to reach 17,651.15, while the Shanghai Composite rose 1.2% to 3,088.64.

A report this week said the growth of the U.S. economy slowed to a 1.6% annual rate during the first three months of this year from 3.4% at the end of 2023. Worries are lingering whether the economy can avoid a deep recession and support strong profits for companies, even if high inflation takes a while to get fully under control.

Traders are largely betting on the possibility of just one or maybe two cuts to interest rates this year by the Fed, if any, according to data from CME Group.

In energy trading Friday, benchmark U.S. crude edged up 28 cents to $83.85 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 20 cents to $89.21 a barrel.