Fed in focus as markets around world close for holiday

LONDON (AP) — With most European and Asian markets closed for a public holiday, U.S. stocks look set to record modest gains at the open ahead of the outcome of the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve.

The central bank is not expected to change its main interest rate from the current range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent as it monitors the health of the U.S. and global economy.

However, it could give clues on their future direction and all eyes in the markets will be on what Chairman Jerome Powell says in his press conference.

“With the S&P 500 at a record high, and the Nasdaq not far behind, the message presented by Jerome Powell will be closely watched,” said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG.

“Markets are convinced that the Fed has their back, but while caution rules at the U.S. central bank it might be difficult to say anything that will fire up the enthusiasm of equity investors.”

Ahead of the Fed decision, futures markets were predicting modest gains in U.S. stock markets on Wednesday. Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures are both up 0.3%. The U.S. stock market has been riding high this year after mounting a big comeback from a steep slump at the end of 2018. Investors have been cheered by signs the global growth is reviving.

The only major market open in Europe is Britain’s FTSE 100 index, which was flat at 7,416. Unlike other countries in Europe, Britain celebrates the May Day bank holiday on Monday.

Earlier in Asia, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.8% on Wednesday to 6,375.90 after ANZ reported a 2% increase in its profit, kicking off the earnings season for the country’s Big Four banks. New Zealand’s benchmark fell 0.6%.

There was no word of specific progress in China-U.S. trade talks in Beijing as officials wrapped up the talks without speaking to reporters or disclosing any details.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gave up 25 cents to $63.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, the international standard, rose 4 cents to $72.10 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro was up 0.2% at $1.1233 while the dollar declined 0.1% to 111.31 yen.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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