Global stocks traded in narrow ranges Thursday, as investors nervously awaited the first meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, a day after minutes to the last meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve showed policymakers discussing how to unwind crisis-era policy measures.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.1 percent at 12,210 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.3 percent to 7,308. France’s CAC 40 outperformed slightly, trading 0.4 percent higher at 5,112. U.S. stocks were poised for modest gains at the open, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures both 0 .1 percent higher.
FED FACTOR: The market mood was dampened on Wednesday after the Fed minutes showed officials discussing plans to reduce the Fed’s bond holdings later this year and disagreeing over whether it would be safe to let inflation rise faster.
ANALYST TAKE: “We all knew this day would come, but with Mr. Trump still settling into his role it may seem to some that the Fed is getting ahead of itself,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. “To its credit, the U.S. central bank has managed to get everyone to live with the idea of gradually rising rates and now it needs to communicate the message that the withdrawal of the famous ‘punch bowl’ will be done in a similarly careful fashion.”
U.S.-CHINA: Trump will be in focus over the rest of the trading week as investors assess his meeting in Florida with Xi, which begins later Thursday. North Korea and trade are set to top the agenda. Traders will be monitoring how these key issues are dealt with and whether recent tensions are alleviated.
THE QUOTE: “With Trump in the past repeatedly accusing China of keeping its currency at artificially low levels against the dollar and stealing American jobs, the outcome of the meeting is something that remains unknown,” said FXTM Research Analyst Lukman Otunuga. “If Trump decides to play hardball and maintains his harsh rhetoric on China, then risk aversion may intensify consequently sending investors rushing towards safe-haven assets.”
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.4 percent to finish at 18,597.06, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.3 percent to 5,856.30. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4 percent to 2,152.75. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent to 24,250.53. The Shanghai Composite edged up 0.3 percent to 3,281.00. Shares were lower in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil was up 19 cents to $51.34 a barrel in New York while Brent, the international standard, rose 24 cents to $54.64 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro was flat at $1.0664 while the dollar was up 0.2 percent at 110.85 yen.