World markets subdued as Brexit, trade talks in focus

A Chinese investor uses his cellphone as he monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Thursday, April 4, 2019. Shares were mixed in Asia on Thursday after modest gains overnight on Wall Street. Mark Schiefelbein AP PhotoBANGKOK

World shares were subdued on Thursday as investors weighed potentially good news on Brexit and trade talks with German economists’ warning of trouble ahead for manufacturing.

The FTSE 100 in Britain slid 0.4% to 7,388 and the CAC 40 in France fell 0.2% to 5,460. Germany’s DAX wavered between gains and losses in the morning and was up 0.2% to 11,980 by midday.

Shares on Wall Street appeared headed for a sluggish open, with the future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average unchanged at 26,241 and that for the S&P 500 flat to slightly down at 2,878.

Meetings were planned Thursday between the British government and the opposition Labour Party in an urgent search for a compromise solution for Brexit.

The upper House of Lords was set to consider legislation that would force Prime Minister Theresa May to seek a delay from the EU. The bill is aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit on April 12. Because a no-deal Brexit is widely considered the worst option for trade and business, that would ease some concerns in markets.

Meanwhile, a group of five leading German economic research institutes slashed their growth forecast for the country to 0.8% from 1.9%, warning that if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, it could get even worse. They said that “political risks have further clouded the global economic environment.”

Shares were mixed in Asia, with the Shanghai Composite jumping 0.9% to 3,246.57 on reports of possible progress in China-U.S. trade talks.

The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks

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