Japanese stocks fell for the first time in three days as opposing groups clashed in Egypt and some company earnings missed expectations.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, fell 1.2 percent. Chiyoda Corp., a plant engineering company that gets almost half of its income from the Middle East, lost 0.5 percent. Panasonic Corp., the world’s largest maker of plasma televisions, sank 3.2 percent after the company reported profit that missed analysts’ estimates. Ricoh Co., a maker of office equipment, plunged 9.9 percent after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its investment rating.
European shares ended flat on Thursday, after weak results from heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Santander (SAN.MC) were offset by data showing the U.S. economic recovery was gathering pace.
A less hawkish European Central Bank tone on interest rates had combined with falling U.S. weekly jobless figures to turn the index flat in early afternoon trade, before the release of bullish U.S. service sector data.
Leading the earnings news was oil major Royal Dutch Shell, which fell 2.2 percent after its fourth-quarter profit lagged expectations, and banking group Santander, down 1.7 percent, hit by Spanish property price falls.
U.S. stocks erased losses as gains in consumer and telephone stocks helped the market recover from an early slump.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.2 percent to 1,306.00 at 2:59 p.m. in New York after slumping as much as 0.7 percent earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 12.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,054.35.
Earlier declines came as a stronger dollar weighed on commodity producers and Merck & Co. led losses in drugmakers after its profit forecast trailed estimates.
The Dow average closed above 12,000 for the first time since June 2008 this week after U.S. and Chinese manufacturing expanded and United Parcel Service Inc. beat analysts’ earnings estimates. About 74 percent of the 266 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results since Jan. 10 topped earnings-per- share projections