An investor walks in front of trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Asian markets rose on Wednesday as traders waited for the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the third time this year, a signal that the country’s economic growth was on track. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

European shares flat, Asia rises ahead as US rate hike looms

September 26, 2018 - 4:29 am

SINGAPORE (AP) — European markets were flat Wednesday following a day of gains in Asia as traders awaited an expected interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France's CAC 40 added 0.2 percent to 5,488.09 and Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent to 12,363.79. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 7,506.31. On Wall Street, S&P 500 futures rose 0.2 percent to 2,927.00. Dow futures gained 0.2 percent to 26,552.00.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4 percent to 24,033.79. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, which reopened after a holiday, jumped 1.2 percent to 27,816.87. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.9 percent to 2,806.81. Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 6,192.30. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Markets were closed in South Korea for a national holiday.

U.S. INTEREST RATES: On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate to between 2-2.25 percent in its third increase this year. Traders will also be keeping an eye on the Fed's economic projections and Chairman Jerome Powell's news conference afterward.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The market has already priced in a 25 basis points lift to the Fed funds rate. The economic projections and the speech by Chair Fed Powell will be dissected for insights into what the central bank sees in 2019," Alfonso Esparza of OANDA said in a commentary.

HAIDILAO JUMPS: The Chinese hotpot chain briefly advanced more than 10 percent in its trading debut on Hong Kong's stock exchange, but gave up those gains to end the day almost flat at Hong Kong $17.82 ($2.28) per share. Haidilao is valued at about $12 billion and its initial public offering was Hong Kong's fifth largest this year.

WEAKER ASIAN OUTLOOK: The Asian Development Bank, a Philippines-based regional lender said Wednesday that trade conflicts, rising debt and rising interest rates in the U.S. will likely dampen Asia's growth in the coming year. The bank expects economic growth in Asia to remain at a robust 6.0 percent in 2018 but to slip to 5.8 percent next year. China's economy is expected to expand at a 6.6 percent annual pace this year but slow to 6.3 percent in 2019.

ENERGY: Oil futures extended gains after rallying on news that a weekend meeting of OPEC and its allies ended without an increase in production. Benchmark U.S. crude added 8 cents to $72.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at $72.28. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 26 cents to $81.52 per barrel. It settled at $81.26 after climbing to $81.87 per barrel in London, its highest price since November 2014.

CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 112.86 yen from 112.97 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1770 from $1.1766.

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