LONDON — Global shares churned on Wednesday ahead of minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting that could shed light on whether the U.S. central bank was considering moderating interest rate hikes.
Crude oil prices tumbled as the Group of Seven (G7) nations looked at a price cap of $65 to $70 a barrel on Russian oil, above where the crude grade is currently trading.
Wall Street was set for a muted start, with little in the way of major corporate news to spur trading ahead of Thursday’s U.S. Thanksgiving public holiday, when markets are closed.
The Fed has raised rates sharply this year in a bid to curb surging inflation, and New Zealand’s central bank earlier on Wednesday increased interest rates by a record 75 basis points to 4.25%, a harbinger of more likely hikes from the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England next month.
“There is an expectation that the Fed is probably closer to end of rate hiking cycle than the beginning, certainly to the extent of the rate hikes, the bulk are behind them,” said Mike Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.
The MSCI All Country stock index was up 0.16%, though it still down about 18% for the year.
In Europe, the STOXX index of 600 companies was up 0.3%, leaving it off about 10% for 2022.
David Bizer, managing partner at investment manager Global Customised Wealth, said investors were being guided by what they think the Fed would do next, as signs of a slowdown in the U.S economy become clearer.
“The appreciation in markets overall in the fourth quarter is driven by this belief that the Fed is awakening to the fact that the pace and magnitude of their rate increases might have a near term conclusion. It gives the markets confidence that this is going to be the end,” Bizer said.
The downturn in euro zone business activity eased slightly in November but overall demand continued to decline as consumers cut spending amid a cost of living crisis, data showed, adding to evidence the currency bloc is entering recession.
“The outcome dispels fears of a severe slump and is consistent with a mild technical recession at the turn of the year,” ING bank said in a note to clients.
In China, authorities imposed restrictions to rein in a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections, compounding investor worries about the world’s second largest economy.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5%, buoyed by gains in U.S. stocks overnight. The index is up 12% so far this month.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.6%, while China’s CSI300 Index gained 0.1%.
“The biggest story for investors in Asia is still the China reopening,” said Suresh Tantia, Credit Suisse’s senior investment strategist in Singapore.
“We had seen China markets rally up to 20% but those expectations are being dialed back, we think a reopening will be a slower process and will not be done in a hurry.”
China on Wednesday reported 29,157 new COVID infections for Nov. 22, compared with 28,127 new cases a day earlier. Case numbers in Beijing and Shanghai are steadily rising, and remain high in several major manufacturing and export hubs, prompting authorities to close some facilities.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes traded at 3.7799% compared with its U.S. close of 3.758% on Tuesday.
The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 4.5434% compared with a U.S. close of 4.517%.
Ahead of the Fed minutes, the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of those of other major trading partners, was slightly weaker.
The euro single currency edged 0.17% higher to $1.032.
“The U.S. dollar lost a little of its recent gains (as) central bankers’ consensus about how much more interest rates should rise is fraying,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Tobin Gorey wrote on Wednesday.
Oil prices inched higher as data showed a larger-than-expected U.S. crude drawdown last week, outweighing concerns about lower fuel demand from China.
U.S. crude reversed earlier gains to fall 2.5% to $78.92 a barrel, while Brent crude shed 2.4%% to $85.99 a barrel.
Spot gold was traded at $1,736 per ounce, down 0.2% on the day.
While the FTX exchange collapse continues to roil cryptocurrency markets, Bitcoin was up 2% in at $16,483.
(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney and Huw Jones in London; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Kim Coghill, Miral Fahmy and Tomasz Janowski)