Global stocks were mostly higher in subdued trading Wednesday as investors awaited the publication of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, hoping for clues to how quickly it might raise interest rates.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent at 7,283 and France’s CAC 40 shed 0.1 percent to 4,882. Germany’s DAX was flat at 11,971. Wall Street looked set for a lackluster start, with S&P futures down 0.1 percent and Dow futures flat.
FED WATCH: Investors are eager to know whether the Fed might speed up the pace of its interest rate increases. Chair Janet Yellen indicated that is likely if the job market remains healthy and inflation stays on track. Though higher rates tend to weigh on stocks, the Fed’s confidence and broader optimism about the economy have buoyed markets. U.S. indexes broke records again on Tuesday.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “U.S. equity investors returned from the Presidents Day holiday in a very bubbly mood as both the S&P 500 and Dow Industrials closed in on record territory again,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a commentary. But he added, “the stage is indeed set for the Feds to come out firing on all cylinders this week, so it would be wise to tread cautiously until the airwaves clear.”
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 finished flat at 19,379.87, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,106.61. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1 percent to 24,201.96 and the Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.2 percent to 3,261.22. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,805.10. Stocks in Southeast Asia finished mostly higher.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 37 cents to $53.96 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 55 cents on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 37 cents to $56.29 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.00 yen from 113.57 yen. The euro fell to $1.0513 from $1.0546.