Global stocks mixed, profit-taking dents gains on prospects US interest rates won't rise soon

Global stocks were mixed in Wednesday trading, as optimism over expectations that U.S. interest rates won't be raised soon was countered by profit-taking.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent in early trading to 4,881.05 and Germany's DAX inched down nearly 0.1 percent to 11,197.53. Britain's FTSE 100 also edged down 0.1 percent to 6,944.49. U.S. shares were set to be mixed, with Dow futures inching up 0.01 percent to 18,188. S&P 500 futures slipped 0.05 percent to 2,112.60. The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index delivered new highs Tuesday.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.1 percent to finish at 18,585.20 on profit-taking after shares rose earlier in the day. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,944.90. Hong Kong Hang Seng gained 0.1 percent to 24,778.28, while South Korea's Kospi added 0.7 percent to 1,990.47.

FED FACTOR: Global markets were cheered by comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who told Congress the central bank would be patient about raising interest rates because the job market is still healing and inflation is too low. Lower interest rates make borrowing easier and tend to be a plus for markets.

ANALYST TAKE: "Yellen painted an optimistic view of the U.S. economy overall, pointing to improvement in the labor market," according to the daily market report by the Singapore branch of Mizuho Bank.

GREECE FACTOR: Progress in Greece's efforts to secure an extension of its rescue program added to the optimism. Athens and its bailout creditors reached a tentative agreement last week to continue a rescue loan program for four months to avoid the risk of a Greek default. On Tuesday, European creditors approved a four-month extension to the nation's financial bailout, sending stock indexes in Europe higher.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 28 cents to $49.00 after falling for the fifth day in a row. Brent crude, used to price international oil, rose 6 cents to $58.72 in London.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar was trading at 118.79 yen, up slightly from 118.75 yen. The euro cost $1.1373, little changed from the previous day.


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