Portugal Colonial - Stocks off earlier highs as attention turns to interest rates

CMSC 0% 24.16 $
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Stocks off earlier highs as attention turns to interest rates
Stocks off earlier highs as attention turns to interest rates

Stocks off earlier highs as attention turns to interest rates

Global stock markets shed some of their earlier gains on Wednesday as investors turned their attention to central bank monetary policy in the eurozone and Britain later this week.

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Most of the major European indices still managed to end the session in positive territory, but off their earlier highs as sentiment on Wall Street turned tepid.

In Europe, London's FTSE closed 0.6 percent higher and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.2 percent, but Frankfurt's DAX eased by 0.04 percent.

And on Wall Street, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped their toes into negative territory.

Oil prices rose after the OPEC+ oil cartel stuck to its guns and increased output only modestly despite the price of crude soaring to multi-year highs recently.

"The news was hardly surprising, as the group has rigidly followed this approach since it was first agreed upon, even in December when oil prices plunged following the emergence of Omicron," said Edward Gardner, commodities expert at Capital Economics.

Investors are now turning their attention to monetary policy matters, with both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England holding their regular meetings on Thursday.

And while the guardian of the euro is widely expected to hold borrowing costs unchanged, analysts are predicting that the UK central bank will tighten policy for the second meeting in a row in a bid to rein in soaring inflation.

- Off the boil -

In Asia earlier, investors had appeared to be less worried about the US Federal Reserve's plans to tighten monetary policy and strong corporate results had lifted optimism about the outlook.

And while there remains plenty of volatility and uncertainty on trading floors owing to geopolitical tensions and the Omicron spread, analysts remain upbeat for the year.

While some Asian markets were closed due to the Lunar New Year break, those that opened -- Tokyo, Sydney, Wellington, Jakarta and Manila -- all gained more than one percent.

After a difficult January, world stock markets have enjoyed a strong start to February as investors hunt for bargains, according to analysts.

As well as the ECB and BoE meetings, traders are waiting for the publication of US jobs data for the latest snapshot of the health of the world's biggest economy.

The dollar has come off the boil against its main rivals after recent strong gains on expectations of aggressive Fed interest rate hikes to combat soaring inflation.

- Key figures around 1645 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 35,385.27 points

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,583.00 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.04 percent at 15,613.77 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 7,115.27 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 4,222.05

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.7 percent at 27,533.60 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: Closed for a holiday

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1299 from $1.1269 late Tuesday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3566 from $1.3519

Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.28 pence from 83.33 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.37 yen from 114.67 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.6 percent at $89.71 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $88.79 per barrel