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Global stocks mixed after Wall St falls on Biden tax report

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BEIJING —
Global stock markets were mixed Friday after Wall Street fell following a report President Joe Biden will propose raising taxes on the wealthiest investors.

London and Frankfurt opened lower. Tokyo declined while Shanghai and Hong Kong advanced.

Wall Street futures were higher after the S&P 500 index lost 0.9% on Thursday following a report by Bloomberg News, citing unidentified sources, that Biden will propose raising taxes on people who make more than US$1 million on stock trades.

That added to a mix of better corporate profits and U.S. hiring, unease that inflation and interest rates might rise, and renewed coronavirus infections that have prompted some governments to tighten anti-disease controls.

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Investors are struggling “to navigate through a very muddled global outlook” and earnings reports that have “priced in a slow return to pre-pandemic life,” said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.2% to 6,924.40 while the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.2% to 15,288.36. The CAC 40 in Paris was up less than 0.1% at 6,270.87.

On Wall Street, futures for the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.2%.

On Thursday, selling on Wall Street was widespread following the report about Biden’s tax plan.

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According to Bloomberg, it would raise the capital gains tax to 39.6% for investors who make more than $1 million, or more than double the current rate for Americans in that income bracket. It said a separate surtax on investment income could boost the total tax rate for wealthy investors as high as 43.3%.

Technology stocks, banks and companies that rely on consumer spending accounted for much of the skid. Treasury yields held mostly steady.

The S&P 500 is down 1.2% for the week after hitting a high on April 16.

The Dow and the Nasdaq composite both slide 0.9%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,474.17 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.6% to 29,0290.63. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.1% to 29,078.75.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.3% to 3,186.10 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added less than 0.1% to 7,060.70.

India’s Sensex shed 0.2% to 47,984.31. New Zealand and Jakarta rose while Singapore and Bangkok retreated.

The last round of U.S. government stimulus helped to lift retail spending in the biggest global market. Now, investors are weighing other proposals, including tax changes and Biden’s proposed $2.3 million infrastructure spending package.

Investors are looking for signs of possible economic improvement as companies in the S&P 500 report quarterly results. Also Thursday, the Labor Department reported the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell again last week to its lowest level since the pandemic struck.

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China, the world’s second-largest economy and a major importer, rebounded late last year and the United States is showing solid signs of recovery. Europe and other parts of the world lag.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 24 cents to $61.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract advanced 8 cents on Thursday to $61.43. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 11 cents to $65.15 per barrel in London. It added 8 cents the previous session to $65.40 a barrel.

The dollar declined to 107.91 yen from Thursday’s 108.10 yen. The euro advanced to $1.2061 from $1.2008.

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