Stocks mixed as US, EU policymakers leave rates unchanged

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed Thursday after central banks in Europe and the U.S. said they will leave interest rates unchanged for the time being.

Investors are still waiting for a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks while monitoring Britain’s national election Thursday, which will likely determine if the United Kingdom pushes ahead with its departure from the 28-nation European Union.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5% to 7,252, while France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX were both flat in midday trading in Europe.

Pre-market trading on Wall Street was rudderless, with Dow and S&P futures drifting between small losses and gains.

The European Central Bank left its key interest rate benchmarks and stimulus programs unchanged on Thursday during ts first policy meeting under newly appointed president, Christine Lagarde.

That follows a similar decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday, which also signaled it would leave them alone through 2020.

The Fed had been expected to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged this month after cutting it three times this year to shield the economy from slowing global growth and the fallout of U.S. trade conflicts.

Investor jitters over whether the U.S. and China will be able to avert a new escalation in their trade war has made for choppy trading this week, pulling major indexes lower.

Investors are hoping that both sides can avoid a new round of tariffs scheduled to kick in Sunday on Chinese goods that include phones, laptops and other popular products.

“The fact is the big event risk remains in place, with the world watching to see if the 15% tariffs kick in on $160 billion of Chinese exports on Sunday,” Chris Weston of Pepperstone said in a commentary.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% higher to finish at 23,424.81, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.7% to 6,708.80. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.5% to 2,137.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.3% at 26,994.14, while the Shanghai Composite stood at 2,915.70, down 0.3%.

Shares rose in Taiwan but were mixed in Southeast Asia.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil added 30 cents to $59.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 48 cents to $58.76 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 40 cents to $64.12 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar inched up to 108.61 Japanese yen from 108.60 yen. The euro rose to $1.1136 from $1.1130.

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