Asian stock markets were mixed, while European equities traded slightly higher Wednesday as investors exercised caution ahead of the latest interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve. U.S. Stock futures, meanwhile, remained mostly flat.
In Frankfurt, the shares of Deutsche Börse were trading 0.75 percent higher on Wednesday after it announced a merger with the London Stock Exchange Group. Meanwhile, shares of LSE rose in early trade, but was trading 0.34 percent lower in afternoon trade.
European equities have recovered nearly 12 percent from last month’s low, with commodity producers and banks leading the gains.
“The focus right now is on how much confidence investors can place on central banks,” Justin Urquhart Stewart, co-founder of Seven Investment Management in London, told Bloomberg. “We’re looking for the Fed to reassure markets that there will be no knee-jerk reactions and no immediate changes — tightening will be slow and steady, taking account of market confidence. No drama is what we need.”
The U.S. central bank concludes its two-day monetary policy meeting Wednesday afternoon. Although analysts and investors expect the Fed to stand pat on interest rates, they are watching the meeting for possible insights into future policy moves and assurance that the central bank will continue to support growth.
“The Fed’s view of four rate hikes [this year] would spark significant economic and financial stress, but with U.S. inflation now approaching the Fed’s 2 percent target, market expectations of no hikes this year are equally unrealistic,” Matt Sherwood, head of multi-asset investment strategy at Perpetual Investment Management, wrote in a note to investors.
Meanwhile, oil prices rose Wednesday amid reports that OPEC and non-OPEC producers were planning to hold a meeting in Doha on April 17. Global benchmark Brent crude futures were trading up 2 percent at $39.52 a barrel, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate was trading at $37.14 a barrel.