World stocks slip as investors eye European Central Bank

TOKYO (AP) " World stocks were mostly lower Thursday ahead of comments from the European Central Bank's president and after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen signaled more interest rate increases in the months to come.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 was down 0.1 percent to 4,846 and Germany's DAX dropped by the same rate to 11,587. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent to 7,212. U.S. shares were poised to tick lower at the open. Dow and S&P 500 futures both slipped 0.1 percent.

CENTRAL BANKS: The ECB is not expected to alter its key policies but there is interest in how strongly its president, Mario Draghi, will promise to maintain monetary stimulus to the 19-country eurozone. Both inflation and growth have picked up, and investors will parse his comments for any signs that stimulus might be tapered off next year. Investors have been cautious since Yellen said Wednesday that she expects the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate several times a year through 2019. Higher rates tend to weigh on stock markets, other things being equal.

TRUMP WATCH: Markets are also waiting for Trump to take the oath of office on Friday. Investors are looking to see how much of his campaign-trail rhetoric will become government policy. Uncertainties over future U.S. trade policy deepened after Trump's nominee for commerce secretary, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, slammed China as the "most protectionist" country.

"And it's one thing to talk about free trade. We would like to have our trading partners also practice free trade and do it in a more balanced manner than has been done at present," Ross told a Senate hearing on his confirmation.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.9 percent to end at 19,072.25, lifted by the yen's weakness, which is a boon to export manufacturers. Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 5,692.20 and South Korea's Kospi ticked up 0.1 percent to 2,072.79. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.2 percent to 23,049.96 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.4 percent to 3,101.30. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

TAKATA TUMBLE: Trading in Takata stock was halted as its shares sank after the Japanese business daily The Nikkei reported that potential sponsors for the company's rehabilitation plan are asking a court to get involved. Many automakers also support such a move after being hit by massive recalls due to defective air bag inflators linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide. Takata Corp. denied the Nikkei's report. The company has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and pay $1 billion in penalties and restitution to automakers and injured drivers.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose against many of its peers after sinking sharply against the British pound and other currencies earlier in the week. The dollar rose to 114.70 yen from 114.67 in late trading Wednesday while the British pound fell to $1.2324 from $1.2396. The euro fell to $1.0662 from $1.0709.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 41 cents to $51.49 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.40 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 48 cents to $54.40 a barrel in London.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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