- Traders are awaiting the release Friday of US jobs data for April, with some observers suggesting around one million positions created.
LONDON: Equity markets traded mostly lower Tuesday, as oil prices rallied and the dollar firmed looking ahead to key US jobs data later in the week.
There were few catalysts to drive business on Asian and European stock markets, with Tokyo and mainland China's bourses closed for holidays and London reopening after a long weekend break in the UK.
Traders are awaiting the release Friday of US jobs data for April, with some observers suggesting around one million positions created.
Despite the lacklustre showing, "the world remains almost perfect for equities", said Chris Iggo at AXA Investment Managers.
Amid economic recovery, rising earnings and rich valuations, "no one is taking the punch bowl away for now", he added.
Still, with equities sitting around record or multi-year highs after a more than year-long rally, there is a feeling that they are in store for a small correction soon, before resuming their upward march.
"The peak growth headwind is blowing against the stock market and driving a period of consolidation after the tailwind of reopening optimism catalyzed a 5.2 percent gain for the S&P 500 (and a 5.4 percent gain for the Nasdaq Composite) in April," said Patrick O'Hare at Briefing.com.
In Asia, Hong Kong rose a day after data showed the financial hub had finally escaped recession following seven quarters of contraction caused by the pandemic and the 2019 democracy protests.
In Europe, London was flat, while Frankfurt and Paris were lower in afternoon trading. Wall Street's main indices opened down.
"Call it what you want: 'Consolidation' is a word some people are using to describe this lack of direction in the markets amid a slowing news flow," said JJ Kinahan at TD Ameritrade.
Oil prices extended Monday's rally with traders hopeful for a resumption of travel in Europe as leaders look at easing restrictions on foreign tourists as early as next month.
Along with the rollout of jabs, that was helping offset concerns about the frightening coronavirus surge in India that has crippled the country's health system and led to calls for strict lockdowns.
Pfizer sharply increased its projections for 2021 revenues and profits on Tuesday, citing much higher sales from its Covid-19 vaccine sales.
The drugmaker now estimates 2021 revenues of $26 billion from the vaccine, up from $15 billion previously.
Elsewhere on the corporate front, energy giant Saudi Aramco posted a 30-percent jump in first quarter profits, beating forecasts in a sign of recovery from last year's oil market crash fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Key figures around 1330 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP FLAT at 6,969.01 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.7 percent at 14,977.59
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,273.83
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,956.00
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 34,052.33
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.7 percent at 28,557.14 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday
Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2020 from $1.2066 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3850 from $1.3907
Euro/pound: UP at 86.77 pence from 86.71 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 109.16 yen from 109.07 yen
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.5 percent at $68.58 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4 percent at $65.40