Global stocks subdued ahead of Fed news

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Global stock markets were subdued Wednesday ahead of the outcome of the Federal Reserve's first policy meeting under its new chief.

In early European trading, stock markets were mostly muted with tensions over Russia's annexation of Crimea still in the background. Germany's DAX added 0.4 percent to 9,275.99 while France's CAC 40 drifted 0.2 percent lower to 4,306.34. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent to 6,601.01.

On Wall Street, stocks were poised to gain with Dow Jones and Standard & Poor's 500 futures each up 0.1 percent.

The U.S. Federal Reserve ends a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the first headed by new governor Janet Yellen.

Most analysts expect the Fed to continue to reduce its monetary stimulus at the speed it has already set, trimming its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion. It is also expected to revise its economic forecasts.

Investors should pay attention to how much the Fed cuts its economic forecasts and how it changes its guidance for when to increase the federal funds rate, said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at Melbourne, Australia-based IG. How the Fed views the latest wage growth data and if it mentions the improvement in employment would also be important, he said.

Earlier in Asia, stocks traded in narrow ranges. The Asian heavyweight index, Tokyo's Nikkei 225, rose 0.4 percent to 14,462.52 bouncing back from earlier losses. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,355.60.

China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.2 percent to 2,021.73. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 1,937.68 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.1 percent to 21,568.69.

Earlier this week, global stock markets were boosted by relief over narrower-than-expected Western sanctions on Russia after its military intervention in Crimea and annexation of the Ukrainian region. Housing reports from the U.S. Commerce Department also underpinned investor sentiment, sending oil prices higher and pushing down the prices of gold, a traditional safety haven.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 12 cents to $99.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.62 to $99.70 on Tuesday on expectations that the solid U.S. economic outlook would increase oil demand.

In currency markets, the euro fell to $1.3908 from $1.3933. The dollar rose to 101.62 yen from 101.43 yen.

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