Stock Futures Steady Ahead of Fed Meeting; Oil Up: Markets Wrap

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U.S. stock futures traded flat and Asian equity markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors awaited the conclusion of a Federal Reserve meeting to gauge the extent of central bank support for the economic recovery. Crude oil extended gains.

Shares in Hong Kong and China dipped, while Australia outperformed. S&P 500 futures edged higher after the benchmark rose for a third consecutive session, as gains in technology shares helped offset a late slide in financials. Nasdaq 100 contracts erased earlier losses seen in the wake of news that Facebook Inc. might face a possible U.S. antitrust lawsuit. Treasuries and the dollar were steady.

While a gauge of Asian stocks is up for a fifth straight day, the longest stretch since June, investors are looking for catalysts to take markets higher after an impressive global recovery from March lows sputtered in the first half of September.

The Fed is expected to maintain its dovish stance at its policy meeting Wednesday after earlier saying it will shift to a more relaxed approach on inflation. Central bank stimulus has been shoring up sentiment in the face of risks from the pandemic, the U.S. presidential election and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

“Given the volatility we have seen in the stock market in the last couple of weeks — as more evidence of some bubble-like characteristics in the exposure to growth stocks has been revealed — it’s hard to see a new, strong rally ahead of the U.S. election,” said Chris Iggo, chief investment officer of core investments at AXA Investment Managers.

Meantime, President Donald Trump said a vaccine shot could be ready within four weeks. Separately, China’s top bio-safety scientist said one may be
available
for public use as early as November or December.

Trade issues also continue to simmer, with the World Trade Organization ruling that the U.S. violated international regulations by imposing tariffs on more than $234 billion of Chinese exports.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • Wednesday sees the FOMC policy decision and news conference from Chair Jerome Powell.
  • Bank of Japan, Bank Indonesia and Bank of England policy decisions come Thursday.
  • Friday sees quadruple witching — the quarterly expiration of futures and options on indexes and stocks — in U.S. markets

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.1% as of 6:45 a.m. in London. The gauge increased 0.5% on Tuesday.
  • Japan’s Topix index added 0.2%.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.1%.
  • Shanghai Composite slid 0.3%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.9%.
  • Euro Stoxx 50 futures slid 0.2%.

Currencies

  • The yen rose 0.1% to 105.31 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.7716 per dollar, up 0.1%.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed.
  • The euro was at $1.1843.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries was at 0.67%.
  • Australia’s 10-year yield slipped to 0.86%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 1.7% to $38.92 a barrel.
  • Gold rose 0.3% to $1,959.45 an ounce.

— With assistance by Joanna Ossinger