The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) - Upbeat economic data left European and U.S. stock markets mostly unmoved Thursday, as investors questioned whether any recovery would prove sustainable. Asian shares closed lower on worries about China's growth.
In afternoon European trade, Germany's DAX was down 12.48 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,509.49, while Britain's FTSE 100 was up 11.63 points, or 0.2 percent, at 4,902.21. France's CAC-40 edged up 7.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,675.75.
Wall Street likewise showed a lack of momentum, with the Dow industrial average sliding 6.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 9,536.64 and the Standard&Poor's 500 falling 3.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,024.89 despite stronger U.S. growth data.
Official figures on Thursday showed the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent in the spring, which was unchanged from a preliminary estimate ‚Äî but much better than expectations for a downward revision to a 1.5 percent contraction.
The figure followed strong data for durable goods orders and new home sales on Wednesday. But although economic indicators are turning consistently positive, investors have become cautious about buying further into world stock markets, wondering if the rally since March may not have been overdone and left shares overvalued.
"Another day of strong data releases and the markets hardly flinched," said Mitul Kotecha, analyst at Calyon.
"There have been plenty of positive data surprises over recent weeks and markets have become increasingly desensitised to such news," he said.
In Germany, the Nuremberg-based GfK research group said its forward-looking Consumer Climate Survey rose to 3.7 points for September from 3.4 points the previous month as more people reported expectations of an economic recovery.
That came on the back of another increase in a separate measure of business confidence, in Ifo survey, on Wednesday.
Earnings reports, meanwhile showed some improvements. Diageo Plc, the world's biggest spirits maker, posted a 7 percent rise in full-year net profit, although its shares fell 3.3 percent on worries about weaker revenue. France's Credit Agricole SA saw its shares jump 5.6 percent after reporting its net profit more than doubled in the second quarter.
Kotecha attributed the lack of reaction to good economic data to "market fatigue," with investors already having priced in a mild recovery.
Markets have yet to be convinced that any economic rebound will be lasting, with doubts fueled by concerns over growth in China. Most Asian stock indexes closed lower after China said it will curb overcapacity and excessive investment in industries such as steel and cement, adding to worries about the country's economic recovery.
Beijing's announcement comes after economists had warned that China's 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package was creating a glut in a range of industries. In the long run, that may be positive for the Chinese economy, but in the short-term could mean less profit.
"They pumped trillions (of yuan) into the economy and the local economic leaders used the money to build steel mills that have no market," said Francis Lun, general manager of Fulbright Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong.
"This is bad for the stock market. We'll probably see a temporary lull," he said.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 1 percent to 20,242.75, while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 average slid 1.6 percent to 10,473.97.
Shanghai's Composite index, which has swung wildly over the last two weeks, dropped a relatively moderate 0.7 percent to 2,946.40.
South Korea's Kospi fell 0.9 percent and Australia's benchmark ended down 0.1 percent, but markets in Singapore, India and the Philippines advanced.
Crude oil prices fell, with benchmark crude for October delivery down 75 cents to $70.68 a barrel.
In currencies, the dollar weakened further to 93.84 yen from 94.21 yen late Wednesday in New York. The euro weakened somewhat to $1.4251 from $1.4258.
Associated Press writer Malcolm Foster in Bangkok contributed to this report.