Stock market today: World shares are mostly higher as the S&P 500 inches near 5,000


BANGKOK (AP) — Share were mostly higher in Europe and Asia on Thursday after the S&P 500 neared the 5,000 level for the first time.

Germany’s DAX gained 0.2% to 16,959.12 and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.6% to 7,658.98. Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 0.3% to 7,648.23.

The futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down less than 0.1%.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s benchmark fell while Shanghai advanced after China replaced its top stock market regulator late Wednesday.

Beijing has been struggling to prop up what have been some of the world’s worst-performing markets this year. Late Wednesday, China’s top stock regulator was replaced by a former chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange as part of those efforts.

Wu Qing, also a former banker and ex-vice mayor of Shanghai, has been dubbed the “broker butcher,” analysts say, due to his record for cracking down on market abuses such as insider trading.

The announcement that Yi Huiman was being dismissed from his post as chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission came without any explanation. But the ruling Communist Party may have chosen him as a way of signaling its resolve to protect smaller investors who have taken a drubbing in the recent sell-offs.

Market observers have cited the lack of transparency surrounding how the markets are run as a factor undermining investor confidence.

On Thursday, the Shanghai Composite index gained 1.3% to 2,865.90 and the Shenzhen Components index in China’s smaller main market also added 1.3%. Markets in mainland China will be closed from Friday through next week for Lunar New Year holidays.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.3%, to 15,878.07 on heavy selling of technology companies, despite strong gains for property developers.

Market heavyweight and e-commerce giant Alibaba’s shares dropped 6.1% after the company announced a major share buyback and said it was giving up plans for share listings of two of its group companies.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 2.1% to 36,863.28 and the Kospi in Seoul was 0.4% higher, at 2,620.32.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.3% to 7,639.20.

Bangkok’s SET gave up 0.8% and the Sensex in India shed 1%.

On Wednesday, Wall Street rose to the edge of another record-breaking milestone as Ford Motor, Chipotle Mexican Grill and other big stocks climbed following their latest earnings reports.

The S&P 500 gained 0.8%, coming within a fraction of a point of the 5,000 level. The Dow added 0.4% and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.9%.

In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 4 cents to $73.90 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 16 cents to $79.37 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 148.79 Japanese yen from 148.18 yen. The euro climbed to $1.0782 from $1.0774.

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