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Global stocks mixed after China's export growth, Fed minutes; Indonesia up after election

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SEOUL, South Korea - Global markets were mixed Thursday with a slight pickup in China's exports failing to give a lift to European stocks after most Asian indexes closed up. Indonesian stocks surged despite a contested presidential election result.

European markets failed to extend the gains from the previous session when investor sentiment was boosted by strong corporate earnings. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.4 per cent to 6,693.71. Germany's DAX slid 0.8 per cent to 9,731.29 and France's CAC-40 sank 1.1 per cent to 4,310.81.

Wall Street was also headed for a weak start. Dow Jones futures and S&P 500 futures were both down 0.6 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, stocks closed mostly higher after China reported a small acceleration in export growth.

China's June exports grew 7.2 per cent in dollar terms from a year earlier, accelerating slightly from May's 7 per cent growth, according to China's customs office. The growth was a small sign of improvement for the world's No. 2 economy. There were still concerns about China's uneven recovery as imports remained lacklustre in a sign of weak domestic demand.

"There's a bit of optimism with China's customs office expecting exports growth to accelerate in the third quarter. Imports could also pick up based on improving signs of manufacturing and services activity in the past two months," Ryan Huang, a market strategist at IG, said in a commentary.

South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 per cent to 2,002.84 even after the central bank lowered this year's growth outlook. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 per cent to 23,238.99 and China's Shanghai Composite was steady at 2,038.34. Stocks in Australia, Singapore and Thailand also gained ground.

In Indonesia, the benchmark stock index added 1.5 per cent. The unofficial results of the country's presidential election showed a narrow victory for Joko Widodo. Despite his rival's refusal to concede, investors seemed to think the result was clear cut and are welcoming Widodo as a possible reformer.

Japan went against the current with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 down 0.6 per cent to 15,216.47 after May machinery orders fell more than expected.

Earlier, the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting showed officials were looking to end the central bank's monthly bond buying in October, if the economy continues to improve. The massive bond purchases have nurtured an economic recovery since 2008 and also driven up stock markets by depressing returns on bonds.

The tone of the minutes, however, did not deter investors from adding stocks. The minutes also suggested that Fed officials neared an agreement over the timing of the central bank's first rate hike since the 2008 financial crisis. Desmond Chua, a market analyst at CMC Markets said investors seemed to have ignored those messages and were too complacent.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was down 49 cents at $101.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.11 to close at $102.29 on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3636 from $1.3643. The dollar fell to 101.40 yen from 101.58 yen.

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