Japanese data continued to indicate a weak economy on Thursday. Core machinery orders fell 3.3 percent in August, reversing much of the previous month's 4.6 percent increase. The consumer confidence index fell to 40.1 in September from 40.5 in August.
US data on Thursday were mixed. The trade deficit widened in August as exports fell 1 percent in August and imports decreased 0.1 percent. However, claims for jobless benefits fell 30,000 to 339,000 last week, the fewest since February 2008. Another report on Thursday showed that import prices rose 1.1 percent in September for a second month.
Meanwhile, though, inflation in Europe is mostly moderating. In Germany, inflation slowed to 2.1 percent in September from 2.2 percent in August. In France, inflation slowed to 2.2 percent in September from 2.4 percent in August.
Slowing inflation means central banks will continue to ease monetary policy. On Wednesday, Brazil's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the tenth straight time to 7.25 percent, a record low. That was followed on Thursday by South Korea's central bank cutting its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent.