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Global stocks follow Wall St. higher amid virus uncertainty

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets mostly rose Wednesday as investors weighed the economic impact of the spread of the coronavirus’s delta variant.

Markets in London and Frankfurt opened higher. Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong advanced.

Wall Street futures were higher after the S&P 500 ended August with a 2.9% gain.

Investors are optimistic about stronger U.S. corporate profits and took comments by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell on Friday as assurance that interest rates will stay low. But that is being tested by signs the virus is depressing economic activity.

Manufacturing indicators for China, India and Indonesia showed activity declined in August as demand weakened, anti-virus curbs were tightened and factories wrestled with supply disruptions.

Powell’s comments are “being overshadowed by mixed economic data” as the virus impact “becomes more obvious,” Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank said in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.7% to 7,167.07 and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.9% to 15,980.90. The CAC 40 in Paris rose 1.2% to 6,765.96.

On Wall Street, futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.4%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 declined 0.1% but ended August with a gain for the seventh straight month. The Dow fell 0.1% and the Nasdaq lost less than 0.1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6% to 3,567.10 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 1.3% to 28,451.02.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.4% to 25,983.64. The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.2% to 3,207.02.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.1% to 7,527.10 after economic output rose 1.4% over a year earlier in the quarter ending in June.

Forecasters warn anti-virus controls imposed in the latest quarter probably will drag full-year growth to below that level. IHS Market reported its measure of Australian manufacturing contracted in August for the first time since June 2020.

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India’s Sensex lost 0.1% to 57,469.67 after economic growth surged to 20.1% over last year’s depressed level in the latest quarter. It was India’s strongest growth on record, but output shrank by 12% compared with the previous quarter as infections surged.

New Zealand gained while Southeast Asian markets declined.

Also Wednesday, a monthly index of Chinese manufacturing issued by business magazine Caixin fell to 49.2 from July’s 50.1 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show activity contracting.

Investors are trying to figure out which industries will gain and which will lose as they grapple with supply disruptions, the spread of the more contagious variant of the virus and signs of possible consumer caution.

On Tuesday, a U.S. business group, the Conference Board, reported consumer confidence fell sharply in August. That was tied to the delta variant, which has inundated hospitals with patients.

On Friday, the Labor Department is due to report U.S. employment conditions in August.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 57 cents to $69.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 35 cents to $71.98 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 110.34 yen from 110.00 yen. The euro declined to $1.1809 from $1.1812.

7 Bellwether Stocks Signaling a Return to Normal

Bellwether stocks are considered to be leading indicators about the direction of the overall economy, a specific sector, or the broader market. They are predictive stocks in that investors can use the company’s earnings reports to gauge economic strength or weakness.

The traditional definition of bellwether stocks brings to mind established, blue-chip companies. They are the home of mature brands with consumer loyalty. These may be stocks that aren’t associated with exceptional growth; some may be dividend stocks.

But there’s something different about normal this time around. If it’s true (and I think it is) that the old rules no longer apply, investors need to change the way they think about bellwether stocks. Plus, let’s face it, many stocks that we might consider to be bellwether stocks have already had a bit of a vaccine rally. That means that the easy gains are gone.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this special presentation that highlights seven of what may be termed the new bellwether stocks. These are stocks that investors should be paying attention to as the economy continues to reopen.

One quality of many of these stocks is that they are either negative for 2021 or underperforming the broader market. And that means that they are likely to have a strong upside as the economy grows.

View the “7 Bellwether Stocks Signaling a Return to Normal”.