Stock market today: World shares mostly higher ahead of Fed decision on interest rates


BANGKOK (AP) — World shares logged meager gains as investors remained cautious ahead of a decision on interest rates Wednesday by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Oil prices were higher as Israeli airstrikes leveled apartment buildings in Gaza and ground troops battled Hamas militants inside the besieged territory. In recent days, Israeli troops have advanced toward the outskirts of Gaza City from the north and east. Worries that fighting could escalate beyond the latest Israel-Hamas war, potentially disrupting supplies, have roiled oil markets in recent weeks.

U.S. benchmark crude oil advanced 86 cents early Wednesday to $81.88 a barrel. It lost 29 cents on Tuesday to $81.02. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 85 cents to $85.87 a barrel.

Germany’s DAX edged up less than 4 points to 14,813.13 and the CAC 40 in Paris gained less than 0.1% to 6,891.38. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up less than 1 point at 7,322.05.

The futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials were 0.4% lower ahead of the decision later Wednesday by the Federal Reserve on interest rates. The overwhelming expectation is that the Fed will keep its overnight interest rate steady. The bigger question is how long it will keep that main rate high.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index added 2.4% to 31,601.65 a day after the Bank of Japan held back from any major changes to its near-zero interest rate policy, though it adjusted its controls on government bond yields.

The dollar weakened against the Japanese yen, trading at 151.22 yen. It had jumped Tuesday after the Japanese central bank’s decision, to 151.66 yen.

The euro fell to $1.0548 from $1.0575.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong, the Hang Seng edged less than 0.1% higher, to 17,101.78. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.1% to 3,023.08.

South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1% to 2,301.56 and the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9% to 6,838.30.

Tuesday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained 0.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4%. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.5%.

More than 80% of the stocks in the S&P 500 strengthened. It closed October with a loss of 2.2% for the month. That’s its third straight monthly drop, the longest losing streak since the COVID-19 pandemic froze the global economy at the start of 2020.

Higher bond yields have taken a toll, since they knock down prices for stocks and other investments, while slowing the overall economy and adding pressure on the entire financial system. The 10-year Treasury yield, which is the centerpiece of the bond market, has jumped from less than 3.50% during the spring to more than 5% recently, touching its highest level since 2007.

The 10-year Treasury yield ticked higher to 4.91% early Wednesday from 4.89% late Monday.

The Fed has already pulled its main overnight interest rate above 5.25% to its highest level since 2001. It’s been saying it will make upcoming moves based on what data say about inflation and the job market, where the worry is that too-strong growth could give inflation more fuel.

Reports on the economy Tuesday came in mixed. One said that growth in wages and benefits for U.S. workers slowed during the summer, compared with year-earlier levels, but not by as much as economists expected.

Another report said that confidence among U.S. consumers weakened last month, but not by as much as economists expected. Strong consumer spending has helped the economy avoid recession, but it could also fan inflation. That’s why the Fed is nervous about too strong growth in wages, as workers fight for higher pay amid high inflation.

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