Global stock markets ease ahead of Wall Street open

SEOUL, South Korea — Global stock markets were mixed Thursday with European stocks trading lower after Chinese markets finished with sharp gains, as investors focus on developments in the trade dispute between the United States and China.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.7 percent to 7,721 while Germany's DAX dipped 0.4 percent to 12,585. France's CAC 40 declined 0.4 percent to 5,478. Futures augured a tepid start on Wall Street. S&P futures were flat while Dow futures edged down less than 0.1 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Chinese stocks rallied but other markets in Asia finished mixed. The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.8 percent to 2,794.38 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.9 percent to 28,607.30. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2 percent to 22,598.39 while South Korea's Kospi inched up 0.1 percent to 2,303.71. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 was up 0.5 percent to 6,297.70. Stocks in Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia were lower.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Looking at the rhetorical battle between the United States and China recently, it may appear that finding a clue to resolve (the trade war) is impossible," said Lee Seunghoon, an analyst at Meritz Securities Co. in Seoul, South Korea. "But rather than prolonging the trade conflicts, such heated rhetorical battle between the U.S. and China will likely lead to a resumption of negotiations before the U.S. midterm elections." Lee said the actual imposition of additional tariffs by the U.S. on Chinese products could be delayed and concerns about higher consumer prices in the U.S. may discourage President Donald Trump's administration from imposing further tariffs.

TRADE SPAT: The U.S. and China both announced new tariffs. Later this month each country will place a 25 percent tax on $16 billion in goods imported from the other. Both countries placed tariffs on $34 billion in imports earlier this month, and they have threatened much larger tariffs to come. The Trump administration plans to tax Chinese industrial products such as steam turbines and iron girders starting Aug. 23. China's government said it will place tariffs on U.S. goods including cars, crude oil and scrap metal starting on the same date.

NIXED DEALS: Drugstore chain Rite Aid and grocer Albertsons say they have called off their merger deal, which was worth a reported $24 billion. Some Rite Aid shareholders were skeptical of the deal, arguing the company would be better off as a standalone company. Meanwhile, Tribune Media withdrew from its $3.9 billion buyout by Sinclair and it's filing a lawsuit against it, citing breach of contract. Tribune would be on the hook for a $135 million breakup fee. Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. had offered to buy the Chicago company's 42 TV stations and had agreed to get rid of stations in some markets to gain regulatory approval.

OIL: Crude prices stabilized after declines the previous session. Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 2 cents to $66.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 7 cents to $72.35 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.11 yen from 111.02 yen while the euro fell to $1.1596 from $1.1610. The Turkish lira fell to a new record low against the dollar amid a dispute with the U.S. government, while the Russian ruble also dropped after U.S. sanctions on the country over its alleged involvement in poisonings in Britain.

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