World shares were mostly higher Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of a Federal Reserve policy meeting.
Appearing to shrug off an overnight retreat on Wall Street, stocks rose in Paris, London and Tokyo but fell in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
In a virtual news conference, Fed chief Jerome Powell is expected to convey the message that the U.S. economy remains in need of extraordinary help despite recent despite glimmers of a possible recovery, including a government report Friday showing that employers added rather than slashed jobs in May.
In early trading, the CAC 40 in Paris surged 0.8% to 5,133.74 while Germany’s DAX added 0.4% to 12,669.28. Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 0.3% to 6,356.49. The future contract for the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 3,220.90, while the Dow future also gained 0.5% to 27,930.00.
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The Federal Reserve’s promise of immense, unprecedented amounts of aid helped launch the recent rally, and investors want to see the central bank’s reaction to a recent upturn in U.S. jobs numbers.
Supported by U.S. index futures, Asia appears to have moved into wait-and-see mode today, although one feels that it would not take much to spark a temporary rush for the exit door from the fast-money mob, said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged 0.2% higher to 23,124.95 after the government reported a sharp drop in machinery orders in April. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3% to 2,195.69.
Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1% to 6,166.90, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost less than 0.1%, to 25,049.73. India’s Sensex climbed 0.6% to 34,164.59.
Shares rose in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.
The Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.5% to 2,942.16 after data showed a drop in producer prices and lower than expected inflation in April.
The weakness in price pressures should ease in the coming months, as the ongoing ramp-up in policy stimulus drives a further recovery in activity, Julian Evans-Pritchard and Martin Rasmussen of Capital Economics said in a research note.
Overnight, the S&P 500 fell 0.8%, its largest loss in almost three weeks. A day earlier, it had turned positive for the year for the first time since February.
Skeptics have been saying for weeks that the rally may be unsustainable given uncertainties over how quickly economies can recover from the pandemic when the numbers of infections and fatalities are still rising in many countries.
On Wednesday, the Fed is not expected to make major policy changes, analysts said. But it will provide its estimates for future economic growth, inflation and unemployment. It usually provides such forecasts quarterly, though it skipped doing so in March because the viral outbreak had heavily clouded the outlook.
With the trajectory of infections still uncertain, the primary question remains, has the market’s recovery bought the Fed some time not to use all its bullets, or will they keep the pedal to the metal? Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.
Apart from unabated numbers of infections in some U.S. states, experts worry surging numbers of coronavirus cases in developing regions with shaky health systems could undermine efforts to halt the pandemic.
India, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are among the countries easing lockdown restrictions before their outbreaks have peaked and without detailed surveillance and testing systems in place.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury yield was steady at 0.82%, down from 0.83% late Tuesday. It tends to move with investors’ expectations of the economy and inflation, though it’s still well above the 0.64% level where it started last week.
Oil prices fell back on Wednesday, with benchmark U.S. crude oil for July delivery down 85 cents at 38.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 75 cents to 38.94 a barrel on Tuesday.
Brent crude oil for August delivery gave up 74 cents to 40.44 a barrel.
In currency dealings, the U.S. dollar slipped to 107.31 Japanese yen from 107.74 yen on Tuesday. The euro rose to 1.1367 from 1.1338. (AP)