Stocks mostly up as investors look to Fed

·3-min read
The US Federal Reserve is widely expected to maintain its current accommodative posture, arguing that recent price increases will prove ephemeral

European stock markets rose Tuesday after a mixed showing in Asia, as investors braced for news from a key Federal Reserve interest-rate meeting.

In New York, the Dow Jones average was off by 0.5 percent in midday trading.

With inflation surging as countries emerge from coronavirus lockdowns, markets are wondering whether central banks will raise interest rates sooner than expected, which in turn could hamper economic recovery, according to analysts.

In the United States, producer, or factory gate, prices jumped by 6.6 percent in May, the sharpest increase in the history of the data set dating back to 2010, the US Labor Department said.

With that in mind, the Fed's two-day meeting -- and any comments by central bank chief Jerome Powell after the meeting concludes on Wednesday -- are firmly in the spotlight.

Several observers warn that the Fed's pledge to avoid tightening rates until US unemployment is tamed and inflation is consistently higher could backfire if the economy overheats.

That could force the US central bank to raise borrowing costs faster than expected.

"We're in a tug-of-war between the understanding that we're having great economic growth and great earnings growth juxtaposed with the fact that we need to get our head wrapped around what inflation looks like," said Art Hogan, chief strategist at National Securities.

XTB market analyst Walid Koudmani said that "while other central banks, including the European Central Bank, have decided to remain cautious, it remains to be seen if the Fed will finally react to the signs coming from consumers by adjusting its policy, or if it will once again remain on the sidelines."

On the digital currency front, bitcoin dipped a little below $40,000 after Elon Musk said that Tesla would start accepting the unit again once it is mined more ecologically.

Oil prices climbed as demand optimism overshadowed virus infection concerns, with both main crude contracts around multi-year highs.

"That oil has rallied so significantly in the face of notable US dollar strength suggests the rally has plenty left in it," said OANDA analyst. Jeffrey Halley.

With crude prices in the US currency, dollar strength can make it more expensive to purchase for holders of rival units.

- Key figures at 1545 GMT -

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 4,145.53 points

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 34,222.79

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,172.48 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 15,729.52 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 6,639.52 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.0 percent at 29,441.30 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.7 percent at 28,638.53 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.9 percent at 3,556.56 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2126 from $1.2124 at 2050 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4084 from $1.4107

Euro/pound: UP at 86.10 pence from 85.91 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.10 yen from 110.08 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.9 percent at $73.75 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $71.82 per barrel