UK Stocks are Flat on Friday Open

UK Stocks in London are called flat on Friday after Wall Street staged a small comeback on Thursday, but Asian markets suffered steep losses after a new move by the Chinese government to crack down on the Tech Sector. 

Stocks in New York ended mixed on Thursday recovering from steep early losses, on a day that saw investors grapple with hawkish signals from the US Federal Reserve minutes and positive jobless claims figures. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.2% and the S&P 500 shed 0.1%, but the Nasdaq Composite finished 0.1% higher. 

The mood in the US was improved after President Joe Biden’s administration announced steps on Thursday to allow US states to continue expanded unemployment benefits as the country grapples with a surge in the Delta variant of Covid-19, even as data showed jobless claims declined for a fourth straight week. 

Congress approved a massive expansion of the unemployment safety net as the pandemic began last year, but after repeated extensions, the programs are due to expire nationwide early next month. 

States will be able to use money left over from the USD1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan approved in March to continue some of the jobless programs, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labour Secretary Marty Walsh said in a letter to top lawmakers. 

In Asia, however, the mood was sour. 

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index was down 1.0% on Friday. In China, the Shanghai Composite was 1.8% lower, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 2.4%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney was down 0.1%. 

Stocks in Asia were unable to track the small gains seen in the US, with Beijing further tightening its grip on the tech sector. 

China passed a sweeping privacy law aimed at preventing businesses from collecting sensitive personal data, as the country faces an uptick in internet scams, leaks, and concerns about tech giants abusing clients’ personal information. 

Under the new rules passed by China’s top legislative body on Friday, state-run and private companies handling personal information will be required to reduce data collection and obtain user consent. 

The new rules are expected to further rattle China’s tech sector, with companies such as ride-hailing giant Didi and gaming behemoth Tencent in regulators’ crosshairs in recent months over misuse of personal data. 

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