BANGKOK – BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets were mixed Thursday as investors traded with caution ahead of U.S. employment reports that will provide key readings on the health of the world's biggest economy.
Markets have been volatile the past few weeks as indicators from around the globe give mixed signals about the strength of the economic recovery. The latest figures from the U.S. on the services sector and private sector hiring provided a positive cue for traders in Asia but sentiment was fragile and several indexes lost ground during the day.
Later Thursday the U.S. Labor Department will release its weekly report on initial claims for jobless benefits. Its monthly employment report is due Friday. That report is expected to show private employers added 90,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent in June.
As trading got going in Europe, France's CAC-40 was up 0.3 percent at 3,770.82, Germany's DAX was little changed at 6,330.66 and Britain's FTSE 100 was off 0.2 percent at 5,386.16.
Futures pointed to modest losses on Wall Street. Dow futures dropped 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 10,620.00 and broader S&P futures fell 2.4, or 0.2 percent, to 1,122.00.
But lifting the mood in Japan was Toyota's return to profit and upgraded earnings forecast.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index gained 164.58 points, or 1.7 percent, to 9,653.92 despite strength in the yen, which if sustained can hurt the earnings of the nation's exporters.
The index was boosted by gains in automakers. Shares in Toyota Motor Corp. climbed 0.5 percent, Honda Motor Co. was up 2.6 percent and Nissan Motor Co. added 2.8 percent.
The world's top car maker on Wednesday reported a quarterly profit of 190.5 billion yen ($2.2 billion), reversing from red ink a year earlier, and raised its annual profit forecast to 340 billion yen ($4 billion) from 310 billion yen ($3.6 billion).
Elsewhere in Asia, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 4,566.50 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed flat at 21,551.72. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.3 percent to 1,783.86 and the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.7 percent to 2,620.76.
In New York Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average increased 44.05 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,680.43, supported by encouraging U.S. jobs and service industry data.
U.S. private-sector employers added a better-than-expected 42,000 net jobs during July, according to payrolls processor ADP, which releases a monthly employment survey.
A U.S. industry trade group also said growth in America's service sector picked up in July, in a good sign for the overall economy and the job market. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday its service sector index rose to 54.3 last month, up from 53.8 in June. Levels above 50 signal growth. July was the seventh straight month of expansion.
In currencies, the dollar slipped to 86.21 yen from 86.27 yen in New York late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.3164 from $1.3159.
Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 20 cents at $82.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 8 cents to settle at $82.47 on Wednesday.