European stock markets traded in narrow ranges Wednesday ahead of a raft of U.S. economic data that could determine when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next and the upcoming meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 was up 0.1 percent at 5,106 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 percent to 1,240. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.1 percent higher at 7,331. U.S. stocks were poised for a flat opening with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures unchanged.
TRUMP CHINA: Trade agreements and regional tensions will be in focus as Trump and Xi meet Thursday and Friday at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. While some analysts expect the two sides to keep friction to a minimum by sticking to an agreed-upon script, others worry Trump’s past harsh criticism of China and mounting dissatisfaction with Beijing in American business circles auger ill for the summit.
ANALYST TAKE: “This meeting is likely to have an extra dimension added to it by last night’s missile test by North Korea, whose timing can’t have been coincidental, given recent hawkish rhetoric from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
U.S. DATA: The week culminates with Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for March which could cement market expectations for another U.S. interest rate hike in June. Before then, there’s a raft of U.S. data on the agenda including the monthly non-manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management later Wednesday.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.3 percent to 18,861.27 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.6 percent to 24,400.80. The Kospi of South Korea was flat at 2,160.85. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,876.20 and the Shanghai Composite index advanced 1.5 percent to 3,270,31.
CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.0679 while the dollar rose 0.2 percent to 110.92 yen.
ENERGY: Benchmark New York crude was up 55 cents at $51.58 a barrel while Brent, the international standard, was 65 cents higher at $54.82 a barrel.