LONDON (AP) — A surprise indication from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it may raise interest rates at its next policy meeting in June weighed on global stock markets on Thursday.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.5 percent to 9,842 while the CAC-40 in France fell 0.2 percent to 4,310. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 1 percent at 6,104. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 percent.
FED IN FOCUS: According to minutes of the Fed's latest meeting, U.S. central bankers feel it would be time to raise rates at the next Fed meeting on June 14-15 if hiring and economic growth continue to strengthen and inflation keeps rising. The comments took investors by surprise and raise the prospect that some of the loose monetary policy that has supported stock markets globally will be dialed back. Investors are hoping for more insight from Fed officials including Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer and William Dudley, president of the Fed's New York regional bank, who are scheduled to give speeches later Thursday.
QUOTEWORTHY: "What would make support for a hike in June even more significant is the fact that Fischer is typically one of the more neutral policy makers and Dudley is firmly in the dovish camp," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "Hawkish tones from either of these would suggest there is consensus support for a hike and I think the markets would respond accordingly, with the implied odds of a hike surging once again."
CURRENCIES: The dollar was steady after gaining in the immediate aftermath of the publication of the minutes. The euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.12 while the dollar fell 0.2 percent to 109.92 yen.
ASIA'S DAY: The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo ended flat at 16,646.66, while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5 percent to 1,946.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.7 percent to 19,694.33, while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China was roughly unchanged at 2,806.91. Australia's S&P/ASX fell 0.6 percent to 5,323.30. Benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also lost ground.
ENERGY: Oil prices fell further, with the benchmark New York rate down 87 cents at $47.32. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped $1.08 to $47.85 a barrel in London.