European stock markets opened lower Wednesday while Asia advanced as investors awaited an update from the Federal Reserve on possible plans to reduce U.S. stimulus.
Wall Street futures also declined a day after the benchmark S&P 500 index eased off a record high following weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales.
Investors waited for minutes from July’s meeting of the Fed policy committee for an update on when the U.S. central bank might reduce bond purchases that pump money into the financial system and look at raising interest rates.
Some Fed officials, citing strong hiring growth and rising inflation, say policy normalization should start soon. Others argue the Fed needs to see stronger economic data to be sure a recovery is established.
“Overall, there seems to be an absence of positive catalysts to boost sentiments,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report. “Market sentiments may thus largely remain on hold, with the upcoming Fed minutes on watch next.”
In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.3% to 7,160.40. Germany’s DAX lost 0.3% to 15,877.98 and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.4% to 6,791.63.
On Wall Street, the future for the S&P 500 was off less than 0.1% while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.2%.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.7% while the Dow was down 0.8%. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.9%.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1% to 3,487.44 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.6% to 27,671.57. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 0.5% higher at 26,025.14.
The Kospi in South Korea advanced 0.5% to 3,175.88 and Sydney’s S&P-500 fell 0.1% to 7,532.90.
India’s Sensex lost 0.3% to 56,118.57. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets advanced.
On Wall Street, technology and consumer-oriented stocks declined Tuesday as concern about the virus’s impact on the economy grew. Health care stocks advanced.
Selling kicked off after the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales fell at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.1% in July, more than expected. That followed a poor customer sentiment survey Friday.
Major indexes had been trading at record highs on a mix of confidence from investors and friendly monetary policy from the Federal Reserve. Analysts still expect economic growth, but sentiment is becoming more cautious on the pace.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 24 cents to $66.83 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 70 cents on Tuesday to $66.59. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, advanced 31 cents to $69.34 per barrel in London. It fell 48 cents the previous session to $69.03 a barrel.
The dollar was little changed at 109.59 yen. The euro rose to $1.1723 from $1.1711.