European stocks inched up on Wednesday, while U.S. equity futures traded flat as investors waited for the outcome of a Federal Reserve policy meeting due later. Miners were lower as China took aim at soaring commodity prices.
U.S. equity futures
held steady a day after the S&P 500
and Nasdaq Composite
backed away from records to close lower on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
also dropping. Stocks slipped following data that showed a bigger-than-expected drop in May retail sales, while producer prices rose faster than expected.
The outcome of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting and a news conference with Chairman Jerome Powell will come after the close of European markets. The central bank is largely expected to keep its ultra-supportive policy unchanged and continue its bond-buying program even amid surging inflation.
“At some point, there will need to be a signal that the currently easy monetary conditions will be scaled back. The expectation is that the subject of tapering some of the relief has at least made its way to the table for discussion, if not immediate action,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, in a note to clients.
Elsewhere, U.K. consumer prices rose 2.1% on the year in May, the fastest pace of growth since July 2019, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday. The rise exceeded the Bank of England’s target for the first time in almost two years. But like the Fed and other central banks, U.K. officials have said they expect price rises to be transitory.
Germany’s Ifo Institute lowered its forecast for economic growth for the country in 2021 to 3.3% from 3.7% forecast in March, citing bottlenecks with supplies of intermediate products.
Economic data from China showed a moderating of growth in May, with industrial production, while retail sales and fixed-asset investment all rising, but slowing from the pace seen in year-earlier periods.
Mining stocks fell after China’s state stockpiling body said Wednesday that it will release national metals reserves such as copper and aluminum batches in the near future to keep supply and prices stable. Commodity prices have been soaring around the world as some economies speed up recoveries from the pandemic.
Shares of German business software group fell SAP
fell on the heels of results from U.S. rival Oracle
which soundly beat expectations for earnings and sales to close out its fiscal year on Tuesday. However, Oracle shares slipped amid softer-than-anticipated guidance for the August quarter.