Global stocks mixed ahead of likely US rate hike

An elderly Chinese man prepares to go for a smoke break at a brokerage in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday following overnight gains on Wall Street as investors looked ahead to a likely U.S. interest rate hike. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
An investor looks at the Chinese market index at a brokerage in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday following overnight gains on Wall Street as investors looked ahead to a likely U.S. interest rate hike. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING — Global stocks were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street gained ahead of a likely U.S. interest rate hike.

KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Germany's DAX was off 8 points at 13,183.33 points and France's CAC-40 shed 4 points to 5,424.53. London's FTSE 100 was unchanged at 7,500.28. On Tuesday, the CAC-40 rose 0.8 percent, the FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent and the DAX added 0.8 percent. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index were unchanged.

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.7 percent to 3,303.04 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.5 percent to 29,222.10. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.5 percent to 22,758.07 and Seoul's Kospi added 0.8 percent to 2,480.55. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.1 percent and India's Sensex added 0.4 percent to 33,345.06. Singapore declined while Taiwan, New Zealand and other Southeast Asia markets rose.

WALL STREET: Big-name companies gained, delivering records for two of the major stock indexes. Banks and other financial stocks led the gainers as the Fed met to discuss interest rates. Technology stocks declined the most. Energy stocks also fell as crude oil prices closed lower. Bitcoin futures fell on their second day of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,664.11. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.5 percent to 24,504.80. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 percent to 6,862.32.

FED WATCH: The U.S. central bank is expected to raise rates Wednesday for the third time this year, which allows banks to charge more to lend money. Even though inflation is low, the Fed has seen a path to gradually raise rates as the economy and labor market have strengthened. An increase of 0.25 percent "is as good as a done deal" based on options markets pricing, Mizuho Bank said in a report. Investors will be listening for any hints the Fed could pick up its pace on rate hikes next year.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The Fed looks set to hike the Fed funds rate, so it is really down to how quickly we can react to any changes in the 'dots plot,' as well as to the general tone of the statement," Chris Weston of IG said in a report. He noted that outgoing Fed chair Janet Yellen will be holding her final new conference. "One questions how much the market will react to her views, although she does speak on behalf of the collective," said Weston. "Either way, it promises to be a big night for markets even if implied volatility is still quite subdued and options markets are not pricing in fireworks."

EUROPE: The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will have policy announcements on Thursday. Neither is expected to change rates, leaving the focus on their economic forecasts.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 113.34 yen from Tuesday's 113.54. The euro strengthened to $1.1745 from $1.1739.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 53 cents to $57.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 85 cents on Tuesday to $57.14. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 76 cents to $64.10 in London. It plunged $1.35 the previous session.

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