With US closed, global markets tread water ahead of payrolls

LONDON — Global stock markets traded in narrow ranges on Thursday, a day after major U.S. indexes hit record highs in a pre-Independence Day rally amid ongoing hopes over an easing of trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

With Wall Street trading closed for the July 4 holiday, investors will be looking ahead to the U.S. government's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday. The markets expect a solid 165,000 increase in non-farm payrolls. The outcome will likely be a factor in the Federal Reserve's meeting this month. The central bank has already said it is prepared to cut rates to shore up the U.S. economy if trade disputes crimp growth.

"The tranquility is unlikely to last, with tomorrow's non-farm payroll almost bound to inject volatility back into the markets," said Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index.

In Europe, Germany's DAX closed up 0.1% at 12,629.90, while the CAC 40 in France was roughly flat at 5,620.73. Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 0.1% at 7,603.58.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.3% to 21,702.45 and South Korea's Kospi rebounded, gaining 0.5% to 2,108.73. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.6% to 6,718.00. The Shanghai Composite index gave up earlier gains, slipping 0.3% to 3,005.25. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng shed 0.2% lower to 28,795.77. India's Sensex added 0.2% to 39,901.45.

Whatever materializes on the jobs front, the main driver for markets over the coming weeks will be what happens on the trade front. Last weekend's agreement by U.S. President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping to refrain from new tariffs pending a new round of negotiations has relieved some pressure on markets. But the trade war has not been resolved and still remains the biggest cloud hanging over the global economic outlook.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters in Washington that he expected to announce a new round of negotiations soon. "They're on the phone," he said. "There's lots of communication."

"We're not done yet, but we're hopeful," he said.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 35 cents to $56.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 24 cents to $63.58 per barrel.

And in currency trading, the euro was steady at $1.1282 while the dollar was flat at 107.80 yen.

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