European markets and U.S. stock index futures were trading lower Friday as investors remained cautious ahead of next week’s crucial meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Fed will meet on Sept. 16 and Sept. 17 and is expected to decide whether to hike interest rates for the first time in nine years.
The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.7 percent, while London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index traded down 0.3 percent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were also trading 0.9 percent lower.
U.S. stock futures slipped 0.3 percent, suggesting a slightly weaker opening on Wall Street after Thursday’s mixed trade.
“We’re going through quite a fragile time, and we’ll have to see how it evolves from here. That will depend on Fed action, as well as whether there's further negative news from China,” Veronika Pechlaner, European equity fund manager at investment firm Ashburton, told Reuters. growing evidence of china's economic deceleration -- underscored by China's decision to devalue the yuan --
The recent volatility in global markets -- triggered by the growing evidence of China's economic deceleration, which was underscored by China’s decision in August to devalue the yuan -- has fueled uncertainty over the Fed’s timeline for raising interest rates. Until recently, investors were confident that the central bank would hike rates this month. However, comments by Fed officials now suggest they are divided over whether to increase rates.
Recently released U.S. jobs data, which shows a drop in unemployment from a peak of 10 percent in 2009 to 5.1 percent in August this year, have also added to the uncertainty, with many stating that the unemployment figures “argue decisively” for an increase in interest rates.
“If they do not move over the next two weeks then it is certainly going to happen over the next two months,” Robert Parker, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse, told CNBC earlier this week. “I think the overall movement is going to be one of a steady slow increase in the Fed funds rate.”
Meanwhile, in Asia, the equity markets were mixed Friday, with Chinese stocks nearly flat at closing. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 percent in the red, while South Korea’s Kospi Composite index closed down 1 percent. India’s benchmark Sensex witnessed a day of choppy trade, closing down 0.05 percent.