Global stocks lackluster before ECB policy meeting

Global stock markets were lackluster Thursday as investors looked ahead to a European Central Bank meeting and U.S. economic data. Declines were tempered by an easing of tensions over Ukraine.

KEEPING SCORE: European trading was cautious. The CAC-40 in Paris edged down 0.4 percent to 4,403.99. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.2 percent at 6,883.85. Germany’s DAX shed 0.6 percent to 9,568.62. Wall Street was set for muted trading. Dow futures slipped 0.05 percent to 17,064 and S&P 500 futures were almost unchanged at 1,998.70.

DATA DELUGE: The focus of traders is turning to economic data and policy announcements later Thursday. The European Central Bank announces the outcome of its policy meeting and holds a press conference; there are hopes of additional stimulus as Europe’s economy continues to flag. Among the U.S. data due is an update on services activity and an employment report from payrolls processor ADP that precedes Friday’s official monthly employment report. The Bank of Japan ended its policy board meeting and kept its easy monetary policies unchanged.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent to 15,676.18 while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,056.26. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched down 0.1 percent to 25,297.92. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly down, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent to 2,306.86.