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China rout slows, investor focus locked on Fed decision

Global equities regained some poise on Wednesday as a storm in Chinese stocks showed signs of easing, while the dollar made modest gains as investors awaited a Federal Reserve meeting.

After a wave of heavy selling in recent days on the back of broadening regulatory crackdowns in China, Chinese blue chips .CSI30 closed up 0.2%, but the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC ended 0.6% down, its lowest close since March 10.

Hong Kong’s benchmark .HSI added 1.5%, but remained near nine-month lows.

Chinese state-run financial media urged calm on Wednesday after a roiling of stocks in the technology, property and education sectors in recent days.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was 0.3% firmer after three straight sessions of losses.

In Europe, the pan-continent STOXX 600 index .STOXX added 0.2%, helped by encouraging earnings reports.

German lender Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE gained 3.9% after delivering a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Britain’s Barclays BARC.L jumped 4.0% as it announced resumption of shareholder payouts after beating first-half profit expectations.

In U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis ESc1, were 0.1% lower.

Market movements were small ahead of the Fed meeting. Investors are primed for any hints on when the central bank will start reducing its purchases of government bonds and any fresh insight into its views on inflation and economic growth.

“In the background, you have the ripple effect of the Chinese crackdown and a lot of companies reporting today, but the Fed is the major event,” said Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Swiss wealth manager Prime Partners.

“Are we going to get a timetable on tapering? Is it going to be clearly announced?”

The statement from the Fed policy meeting is due at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), with a news conference by Chairman Jerome Powell expected half an hour later.

With investors holding off on major bets ahead of the meeting, the dollar made marginal gains after earlier being pinned down by demand for safe-haven currencies.

The U.S. dollar index =USD moved into positive territory after trading lower in Asian hours, with the greenback last up 0.1% at 92.534.

The Chinese yuan CNY= edged back from three-month lows and its worst day since October on Tuesday.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR strengthened to 1.2590%, up from the U.S. close of 1.234%.

Oil prices rose as industry data showed U.S. crude and product inventories fell more sharply than expected last week, outweighing worries that surging COVID-19 cases would curb fuel demand.

U.S. crude CLc1 rose 0.29% to $71.86 a barrel and Brent crude LCOc1 rose 0.15% to $74.61 per barrel.

Gold drew support from fragile equities and a subdued dollar, with spot prices XAU= above the key psychological level of $1,800, while Bitcoin BTC=BTSP rose around 0.8%, trading just below $40,000.
Source: Reuters (Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa, Kim Coghill and Catherine Evans)

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