European stock markets hold their breath before Fed update
LONDON: European stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic paused on Wednesday (Jun 19) after the previous session’s strong rally, as investors awaited a key monetary policy update from the Federal Reserve.
The dollar was downbeat against its main rivals, while oil prices were volatile after strong gains on Tuesday.
Major crude-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC members like Russia, on Wednesday said they would meet in Vienna at the beginning of July to decide on whether to prolong output cuts.
US and European equity markets had rallied on Tuesday – and Asian indices playing catch-up jumped on Wednesday – on two investor-friendly developments: upbeat comments from the US and China on trade before the G20 Summit, and an ECB statement hinting at a eurozone interest-rate cut.
“European markets are taking a breather in the wake of yesterday’s huge gains across the globe,” noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG trading group.
Wall Street was “near the flatline amid palpable caution” ahead of the Fed meeting’s outcome, as Charles Schwab analysts put it.
Mahony added that the Fed’s rate decision on Wednesday “is widely heralded as the most notable event of the week, with the recent decline in US data highlighting a shift towards another phase of easing”.
Most Fed watchers do not expect the US central bank to move interest rates at this meeting but they do see it signalling that the next move would be downward – and possibly soon.
European Central Bank head Mario Draghi on Tuesday hinted at a cut in interest rates to support the stuttering eurozone economy.
Expectations that the Bank of England will maintain its key interest rate at 0.75 per cent on Thursday increased as official data released Wednesday showed that British annual inflation dipped in May.
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“While we may get some hawkish noises from tomorrow’s Bank of England rate decision, there is unlikely to be a consensus for raising rates any time soon,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
He added that “today’s Fed meeting will be all the more important in how … officials spin the narrative on how they see the path for US interest rates over the rest of 2019.
“Let’s not forget that at the end of last year, there was still an expectation that we might see another three rate rises this year, so the pendulum has swung all the way back, and then some more, in the space of seven months,” Hewson said.
Key figures around 1540 GMT:
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 7,403.54 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 12,308.53 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 per cent at 5,518.45 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 per cent at 3,454.70
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.7 per cent at 21,333.87 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 2.6 per cent at 28,202.14 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.0 per cent at 2,917.80 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP AT US$1.1217 from US$1.1202 at 2040 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2634 from US$1.2558
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.36 yen from 108.43 yen
Brent North Sea: FLAT at US$62.14 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 4 cents at US$54.05 per barrel