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The London Stock Exchange building. Picture: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE
The London Stock Exchange building. Picture: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE

London — World stocks edged up and the dollar was little changed on Wednesday investors await the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting later in the day. Oil rose towards recent seven-year highs on continued tension between Russia and Ukraine.

The Fed is due to update its policy plan at 7pm GMT after a two-day meeting. A first rate increase is forecast in March and markets are already pricing in three more 25 basis-point increases by year-end.

The MSCI world index rose 0.32%. US equities were more upbeat, however, with S&P futures up 1.01% after the index lost 1.22% in the previous session.

European shares climbed 1.47% and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 1.38%.

US stocks posted their worst five-day run since 2020 last week, and the MSCI index is on course for its biggest monthly drop since the Covid-19 pandemic hit markets in March 2020, though analysts at Goldman Sachs said equities had not reached “danger zone” levels.

Sebastien Galy, senior macroeconomic strategist at Nordea Asset Management, said that given the recent volatility he expected the Fed would be “far more cautious about the timing and pace of the balance sheet reduction and that will be welcomed by the equity market”.

Growing tension as Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border have added to a risk-averse environment for investors.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he would consider personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin if Russia invaded Ukraine, as Western leaders stepped up military preparations and made plans to shield Europe from a possible energy supply shock.

US crude rose 0.27% to $85.82 a barrel after getting close to $88 last week. Brent crude rose 0.44% to $88.57.

The dollar index was steady at 96.08 against a basket of major currencies, and the euro was at $1.1286, near one-month lows set on Tuesday.

The Canadian dollar strengthened about 0.4% to 1.25905 versus the dollar. Odds are split on whether the Bank of Canada will raise rates for the first time since 2018 on Wednesday, with the Omicron variant of Covid seen potentially delaying the start of an aggressive tightening campaign aimed at taming inflation.

US Treasury yields on two-year notes inched up to 1.0433%, holding on to gains made earlier this month. The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was 1.7851%, a little below the two-year high of 1.9% last week.

German 10-year government bond yields edged up to -0.069%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was unchanged, after sharp losses earlier in the week, which have left the index down 2.8% this year. It is testing mid-December’s one-year low.

Japan’s Nikkei traded 0.44% lower, close to its lowest level since December 2020.

China’s blue-chip index hit its lowest since October 2020 before reversing to close 0.72% higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.12%.

Hao Hong, head of research at BOCOM International, expects limited appetite from investors to hold big positions in Asia after heavy market selling as the Lunar New Year holiday approaches.

Gold prices ticked down to $1,844 an ounce, after hitting a 10-week high in the previous session.

Reuters

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