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Stocks Turn Lower on Uncertainty Over Stimulus, Pandemic

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World stock markets dropped on Tuesday as investors appeared to become more cautious about a recent rally that has pushed U.S. shares to near record highs.

Benchmarks fell in Paris, London, and Tokyo on Tuesday, and U.S. futures also declined. Analysts say the recent rally may be overdone given uncertainties over the pandemic and economic recoveries.

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Traders are awaiting a meeting of the US central bank this week that might signal future policy. And economic data in Europe has been predictably bad, with Germany reporting its exports fell by a quarter in April.

The figures followed data showing big drops in factory orders and industrial production in Europe’s biggest economy, underlining expectations of a sharp economic contraction in the second quarter.

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The market was closed on Monday for a public holiday.

In Japan, the government reported that wages fell in April as the country widened precautions to fight the coronavirus pandemic, causing some businesses to close or limit their operations.

Lower incomes make consumers even less likely to spend, compounding difficulties in boosting demand at a time when the economy is in recession. A failure to get companies to raise real wages has hindered efforts to return the economy to solid, sustainable growth.

Overnight, the Nasdaq composite, which is more heavily weighted to the big technology stocks that held up the best earlier this year, gained 1.1%, to 9,924.74.

Investors were also cheered by the U.S. government report last week that said that employers added 2.5 million jobs to their payrolls last month. Economists were expecting to see 8 million more lost.

But that good news may well reduce the likelihood of further stimulus, including extensions of unemployment benefits and more assistance for businesses and states.

And with coronavirus infections still rising in the U.S. and many other countries, the outlook for the pandemic remains unclear.

Across the developed world, we will soon know if our national leaders were geniuses, lucky, naive, greedy, short-sighted or just plain dumb. Economies all over the globe are reopening before COVID-19 has been controlled, said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst of Asia-Pacific at Oanda.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 25 cents to 37.94 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 1.36 to 38.19 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude oil shed 35 cents to 40.45 a barrel.(AP)

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