Stock market today: European shares mostly down after rally in Asia, as focus remains on rates

TOKYO (AP) — European stocks mostly fell early Friday, but Asian benchmarks rose after U.S. stocks hit records.

France's CAC 40 rose less than 0.1% in early trading to 8,019.83, while Germany's DAX fell 0.1% to 17,823.36. Britain's FTSE 100 lost almost 0.2% to 7,680.05. US stocks would trade mixed in a tight range, with Dow futures falling less than 0.1% to 38,813.00. S&P 500 futures added less than 0.1% to 5,166.25.

In Asia, the Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.2% to finish at 39,688.94. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney jumped 1.1% to 7,847.00 points. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.2% to 2,680.35. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.8% to 16,353.39, while the Shanghai Composite recovered from early losses and rose 0.6% to 3,046.02.

Although economic data from the region, such as China, remained relatively positive, investors remained cautious. Higher interest rates could be on the horizon, for example, in Japan, once the economy recovers.

"This was driven by reports that (BoJ) officials were more confident in wage growth as cash labor income performed better," said Tan Boon Heng at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said in testimony on Capitol Hill that the central bank “is not far” from achieving the interest rate cuts that Wall Street longs for. He again said the Fed is simply waiting for additional data to confirm that inflation is cooling.

It's a key point on Wall Street, where after shelving earlier hopes that cuts would begin in March, traders now see June as the most likely starting point. The Federal Reserve's main interest rate is at its highest level since 2001.

After coming under fire for waiting too long before raising interest rates when inflation was accelerating, Powell faced questions from the Senate Banking Committee about whether it was too late to cut rates. That would cause undue pain because high rates slow the economy.

On the other side of the Atlantic, traders were also trying to guess when the european central bank will begin cutting interest rates after its president said he is making progress in controlling inflation.

A potentially shocking report arrives on Friday morning, when the US government will give its latest monthly update on the labor market. The hope among traders is that the labor market remains healthy, but not so healthy as to deter the Federal Reserve from cutting interest rates.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 77 cents to $79.70 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 64 cents to $83.60 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar slowly rose to 147.92 Japanese yen from 147.90 yen. The euro was worth $1.0935, down from $1.0951.

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