A hush settled over financial markets on Wednesday as investors waited to hear how often the Federal Reserve might hike United States rates this year, while the currencies of exporting nations were rattled by fears of a full-blown trade war.
European shares are expected to fall, with spread-betters looking to a lower opening of 0.4 percent in Germany's Dax, 0.2 percent in Britain's FTSE and 0.1 percent in France's Cac. The Nasdaq composite fell 19 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,345. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.4 percent to 5,936.40, while South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.4 percent to 2,485.52. Gold rose 0.7 percent to $1,321.70 an ounce and silver jumped 23 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $16.42 an ounce.
FEDERAL RESERVE: The U.S. Federal Reserve's first meeting under Jerome Powell's leadership ends later this week, likely with an announcement that the Fed will resume modest interest rate hikes. The US currency is expected to rally further if the Fed signals it expects four interest rate hikes this year rather than three. Investors will be watching for new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's comments at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The social media giant's plunge followed reports that Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm working for President Donald Trump's campaign, improperly obtained data on 50 million Facebook users without their permission.
The dollar recorded its steepest one-day loss in almost two months as the Fed did not suggest that it was leaning toward four rate hikes this year, as some had expected. New Zealand also has a monetary policy decision on the same day.
Global equities trod water on Tuesday ahead of a US Federal Reserve policy meeting, while investors re-assessed their views of tech stocks following a slump in Facebook's shares after reports of data misuse. US shares were set to open little changed, with Dow futures flat and S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 44 points, or 0.2 percent, to 24,682. General Mills tumbled 8.8 percent while Kellogg dropped 4.0 per cent, Campbell Soup 2.2 per cent and Mondelez International 0.8 per cent. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 12 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,583.
Shares on China's exchanges were lower, the with Shanghai Composite Index slipping as much as 1.2 percent to two-week lows. Japan's Nikkei.N225 had ended down nearly 1 percent as its exporters were hit by more strength in the yen which was up for a third session in the last four. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 15 cents to $67.57 per barrel in London.
The yield on two-year US notes slipped back to 2.304 percent from 9 1/2-year high of 2.366 percent hit on Wednesday while the 10-year yield dipped to 2.874 percent after an initial spike to 2.936 percent.
The yen was little changed at 106.37 to the dollar, with traders wary of any new developments in a cronyism scandal that has eroded support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. All 104 analysts polled by Reuters expected the Fed would raise rates to between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent on Wednesday.