TOKYO - Shares were lackluster Wednesday as investors waited for major earnings reports and took stock of a torrid start to the year for global markets.
European stocks edged higher in early
trading, with Germany's DAX up 0.1 percent at 9665.81. Britain's FTSE 100 added
0.1 percent to 6,804.94 and France's CAC 40 similarly gained 0.1 percent to
Wall Street was poised for a slow
start, with Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures both down 0.1 percent.
Stocks made impressive gains last year
but sold off sharply in the opening weeks of 2014. Some of January's losses
have been recouped, and investors are assessing future moves, said Linus Yip, a
strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.
"After the recent bull run there
is some consolidation, but the market is still positive," Yip said.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent to
14,766.53 after a 3.1 percent gain the day before when the Bank of Japan topped
up its already lavish monetary stimulus by doubling the size of funds to
support bank lending and economic growth.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang
Seng rose 0.3 percent to 22,664.52. Traders were awaiting earnings reports from
such heavyweights as banking giant HSBC.
South Korea's Kospi fell 0.2 percent
to 1,942.93. Prices rose in Australia, New Zealand, mainland China, Indonesia
and most other regional markets.
Benchmark U.S. oil for March delivery
was up 33 cents to $102.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York
Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.13 overnight to $102.43.
In currencies, the euro slipped to
$1.3758 from $1.3767 late Tuesday. The dollar edged down to 102.17 yen from