Global stocks struggled on Friday after Goldman Sachs reported a drop in earnings. Currency markets were still jittery after the Swiss National Bank's shock decision the day before to stop keeping its currency artificially cheap. Britain's FTSE 100 edged was up 0.1 percent to 6,507.44 and Germany's DAX was flat at 10,033.74. France's CAC 40 was 0.4 percent higher at 4,340.44. Futures showed that Wall Street would extend its losses. S&P 500 and Dow futures both fell 0.5 percent. Investment bank Goldman Sachs reported a 10 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings Friday. The bank earned $4.38 a share for the three-month period ending in December. While that was better than the $4.32 a share analysts had been expecting, the earnings report showed the bank was making less money across a range of trading activities.
"At least for the short term the Swiss bank action has opened up a new front of financial markets risk," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. "The Swiss bank's move last night is a reminder to investors and traders that central bank action is a source of market risk given the scale of their activities in recent years and its impact on economic activity." Global Brokers NZ Ltd., a currency trading house in New Zealand, was among the first to say that it was closing its doors as the global economy felt the fallouts from the Swiss National Bank's abrupt policy reversal. The majority of clients in a franc position sustained losses amounting to far greater than their account equity, the company said. In London, Alpari said it was also going out of business and in New York, shares in brokerage FXCM were down 74 percent in pre-market trading.
Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.4 percent to 16,864.16 while South Korea's Kospi fell 1.4 percent to 1,888.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 1 percent at 24,103.52. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.6 percent to 5,299.20. Stocks in Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan also fell.