World Stocks Mixed as Investors Await Fed’s Likely Rate Hike

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

European stocks rose while Asian shares slipped Wednesday as the Fed met to decide on whether to hike interest rates in view of improvements in the U.S. economy.

European shares rose in early trading. Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent to 12,016.80 and France’s CAC 40 inched up 0.1 percent to 4,979.78. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 7,375.42. Wall Street indexes were poised to open higher, with Dow futures up 0.2 percent to 20,836.00 and broader S&P 500 futures rising 0.3 percent to 2,368.90.

The U.S. central bank looks set to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point when policymakers wrap up their two-day meeting on Wednesday, or Thursday morning in Asia. Analysts said a rate hike, only the Fed’s third in a decade, is already priced into financial markets and investors will be looking to see what Fed chief Janet Yellen will be saying about the pace of future increases. Higher rates would make the U.S. more attractive and could siphon away capital from emerging markets and weaken their currencies.

“A U.S. rate rise is now baked in to the market cake,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets. Now, “the focus will shift to board projections. Any increase on the current indications of a further three hikes this year could disrupt equity markets.”

China’s top economic official sought to defuse tensions with the U.S. over trade in a news conference as the country’s annual legislative session ended. Premier Li Keqiang vowed to keep the yuan’s exchange rate stable, saying there’s no plan to devalue it to boost exports and said his government has no desire for a trade war. President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to declare that Beijing improperly manipulates its exchange rate, a move that could lead to trade sanctions.

Oil prices bounced after a slump in U.S. trading fueled by oversupply concerns. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 85 cents to $48.57 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 68 cents, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $47.72 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added 74 cents to $51.66 per barrel in London.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index lost 0.2 percent to close at 19,577.38 and South Korea’s Kospi dipped less than 0.1 percent to 2,133.00. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.2 percent lower to 23,792.85 but the Shanghai Composite Index recouped early losses to rise 0.1 percent to 3,241.76. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent to 5,774.00. Shares fell in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.

The dollar slipped to 114.62 yen from 114.76 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.0633 from $1.0605. The pound rose to $1.2218 from $1.2153.