HONG KONG (AP) – Most world stock markets rose Thursday as investors assessed the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting minutes, while crude oil’s rally fizzled out ahead of an OPEC meeting on production.
KEEPING SCORE: Most European benchmarks climbed after an early wobble. France’s CAC 40 added 0.3 percent to 5,354.57 but Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 12,631.83. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1 percent higher to 7,521.88. Wall Street was poised to open higher a day after pushing into record territory. Dow futures gained 0.3 percent to 21,049.00 and broader S&P 500 futures added 0.2 percent to 2,407.10.
FED IN FOCUS: According to the minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee on Wednesday, officials signaled that they would soon be ready to resume raising interest rates if economic data came in line with their expectations. They wanted more evidence that a recent slowdown in U.S. growth was “transitory before taking another step” to raise rates. They also discussed steps for shrinking the U.S. central bank’s $4.5 trillion in bond holdings. The comments indicate policymakers are sticking to their plans to gradually remove the stimulus that has helped prop up stock markets for years.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “Although expectations of a rate hike in June were realized when Federal Reserve officials said it would ‘soon be appropriate’ to raise rates again, the longer-term hiking path remains clouded,” said Lukman Otunuga, analyst at FXTM. “The prospect of a third U.S rate increase by the Federal Reserve in 2017 still remains under threat, especially when considering how Trump uncertainty still remains a major theme.”
RATING REDUX: Investors in Asia shrugged off a Moody’s one-notch downgrade of Hong Kong’s credit rating shortly after it cut its China rating because of rising debt levels, citing tight links between the two places. Chinese markets appeared to be more focused on growing speculation that MSCI might include mainland Chinese shares to its benchmark next month.
ASIA’S DAY: The Nikkei 225 stock index in Tokyo climbed 0.4 percent to close at 19,813.13 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rallied 0.8 percent to 25,630.78. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1 percent to 2,342.93 while the Shanghai Composite index gained 1.4 percent to 3,107.83. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 5,789.60. Shares were also higher in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
ENERGY: Oil futures reversed earlier gains just ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other nations to meet and discuss production. They are expected to extend last year’s production cut in a concerted attempt to prevent oil prices from falling. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 10 cents to $51.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 11 cents to settle at $51.36 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 11 cents to $54.85 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.83 yen from 111.50 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1229 from $1.1119.