Asian markets higher…European stocks lower
BEIJING (AP) – European markets have opened lower and Asian stocks closed higher as investors saw signs of possible progress in talks on ending Russia’s war on Ukraine. London and Frankfurt declined. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney gained while Tokyo retreated. Oil prices rose more than $2 per barrel. Wall Street futures are lower after U.S. stocks rose the previous day following Russia’s announcement it would scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and another northern city. Japanese stocks fell after the government reported February retail spending declined more than expected. Markets also have been on edge about higher U.S. interest rates.
BEIJING (AP) – China’s leaders are trying to fine-tune their “zero tolerance” COVID-19 strategy to rein in job losses and other costs to the world’s second-largest economy. As millions of people in Shanghai line up for coronavirus tests, authorities are promising tax cuts for shopkeepers in the closed-down city and to keep its busy port functioning to limit disruptions to industry and trade. This week’s shutdown of most activities in China’s most populous city to contain virus outbreaks jolted financial markets that already were on edge about Russia’s war on Ukraine, higher U.S. interest rates and a Chinese economic slowdown.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand’s flagship airline has announced a plan to raise $1.5 billion to hire more staff, buy new planes and expand its routes as it tries to rebuild from deep losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Air New Zealand’s shares were put in a temporary trading halt ahead of the announcement today. As well as being used to invest in the business, some of the new money will be used to pay back government loans.
MADRID (AP) – Spanish authorities say inflation hit a 37-year high in March, rising to 9.8%. That provisional figure is the highest since May 1985 and comes as consumer prices have soared worldwide. The price bump comes after months of global inflation that has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Spain’s national statistics office says that inflation was widespread but driven by hikes in electricity, fuel, food and non-alcoholic beverages.
BERLIN (AP) – The German government’s panel of independent economic advisers has slashed its 2022 growth forecast for Europe’s biggest economy in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concern over energy supplies and prices. The group forecast that Germany’s gross domestic product will expand by only 1.8% this year. Last year, the country’s GDP grew by 2.8%. Germany today triggered an early warning level for natural gas supplies amid concerns that Russia could cut off deliveries unless it is paid in rubles.