World stock markets were subdued Wednesday as investors monitored developments in the U.S.-China trade war and looked ahead to the release of minutes to the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.
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After a day of modest gains in Asia, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5% to 7,362, while the DAX in Germany edged 0.4% higher to 12,192. The CAC 40 in France rose 0.2% to 5,395. U.S. markets were set for a flat open, with the future contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average largely unchanged and the S&P 500 future contract dipping 0.1%.
Investors snapped up technology shares Tuesday after the U.S. government opted to temporarily ease off on proposed restrictions on technology sales to Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies.
A 90-day grace period announced by the Department of Commerce brightened sentiment. But "the reality is that a resumption of the limitations after 90 days would most certainly still affect the global supply chain and hit hard at a touchy issue for China to potentially induce further retaliation," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.1% to 21,283.37 and South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.2% to 2,064.86. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2% to 27,705.94, and the S&P ASX 200 in Sydney edged 0.2% higher to 6,510.70. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.5% to 2,891.70. India's Sensex climbed 0.6% to 39,183.37. Shares fell in Taiwan and Jakarta but rose in Singapore and Thailand.
The Trump administration's sanctions against Huawei and other Chinese technology companies have begun to bite even though their dimensions remain unclear. U.S. companies such as Qualcomm and Broadcom that supply the Chinese tech powerhouse with computer chips face a drop in sales, and Huawei's smartphone sales could get decimated with the anticipated loss of Google's popular software and services.
The U.S. move escalates trade-war tensions with Beijing, but also risks making China more self-sufficient over time. About one-third of Huawei's suppliers are American chipmakers.
Later, investors will keep an eye on the release of the minutes to the Fed's last policy meeting for hints on whether it is leaning more toward raising or cutting rates in the future. Analysts expect it to show the rate-setters are in a wait-and-see mode as the U.S. economy is doing well but global growth is looking shaky and uncertainties like the trade war are muddling the outlook.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped lost 58 cents to $62.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 8 cents on Tuesday to settle at $63.13 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 36 cents to $71.82 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.45 Japanese yen from 110.50 yen on Tuesday. The euro was flat at $1.1161.