World stocks fell Wednesday as investors awaited the release of the minutes to the Federal Reserve’s last meeting for hints on whether it will raise interest rates again next month.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent to 4,284 and Germany’s DAX also eased 0.3 percent to 9,864. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent to 6,136. U.S. stocks were poised for a flat opening with Dow and S&P 500 futures both down 0.1 percent.
FED WATCH: Traders are waiting for the publication of minutes from the last meeting of the Fed, when it did not raise rates, for signs of how worried the policymakers are about inflation and the economic outlook. Some investors expect it to raise rates again in June as the economy continues to improve gradually and inflation picks up. “We expect to gain more insight into the timing of upcoming rate hikes,” said analysts from UniCredit in a note to clients.
ASIAN DATA: Market sentiment was mixed earlier, as upbeat Japanese figures were offset by concerns over China. The Japanese government reported that the economy grew by a faster-than-expected 1.7 percent in the first quarter. Solid consumer demand and higher government spending helped offset weak business investment and sluggish exports. Investors appeared disappointed, however, by a lack of fresh market-boosting initiatives from Beijing during a visit by a top Communist Party official to Hong Kong.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index shed 0.1 percent to 16,644.69. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.3 percent to 2,807.51 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.5 percent to 19,826.41. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 1,956.73 but Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Taiwan were slightly up. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent to 5,356.20.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil rose 24 cents to $48.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That adds to a string of gains, which saw it rise 59 cents the day before. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 10 cents to $49.38.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.35 yen from 109.14 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1282 from $1.1314.