World Stocks Generally Higher Ahead of Fed Comments

SINGAPORE (AP) -- World stocks generally edged higher Friday as investors awaited more guidance on the U.S. Federal Reserve's easing plans.

In early trading, Germany's DAX rose almost 0.1% to 15,797.05 and the FTSE 100 in Britain added 0.1% to 7,128.59. France's CAC 40 slipped less than 0.1% to 6,664.55, however.

Wall Street was positioned for gains. Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 4,480.25. That of the Dow also gained 0.3% to 35,261.00.

The moves in the U.S. and Europe followed an uninspired trading day in Asia. Markets are awaiting comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who is to speak at the central bank's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later Friday.

Any indications of when the bank will start scaling back on asset purchases will be closely watched. So will any signs of concern about the coronavirus delta variant, which could signal a cautiousness toward tapering, analysts said.

Several Fed officials have suggested that the easing will take place sooner rather than later, although a firm timeline has not been set.

"Despite the 'risk on' mood heading into Jackson Hole, which arguably points to an accommodative enough Fed tilt to keep markets buoyed, thin trading in the U.S. bond markets this week suggests latent caution," Hayaki Narita at Mizuho Bank said in a report.

"As overrated as Jackson Hole's significance may be, there is no denying that the quest for policy clarity will only gain momentum," Narita added.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.4% to 27,641.14 while the Kospi in South Korea added 0.2% to 3,133.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped less than 0.1% to 25,407.89.

The Shanghai Composite advanced 0.6% to 3,522.16. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 fell less than 0.1% to 7,488.30. Benchmarks in India, Malaysia and Thailand rose while those in Indonesia and Singapore slipped.

Investors are set for a new and busy week of economic releases, including U.S. jobs data for August and flash eurozone inflation figures. India, Australia and Canada will also report their second quarter economic growth.

"If the speech turns out to be a non-event, the follow-up market risk event will be the jobs report next week, which will provide more concrete data in steering the timeline of tapering ahead," Yeap Jun Rong at IG said.

Also of concern is the deadly attacks at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Wall Street indexes fell on Thursday after the attacks on crowds trying to flee the Taliban-controlled country.

U.S. President Joe Biden said the bloodshed would not drive the U.S. out of Afghanistan earlier than scheduled, and that he had instructed the U.S. military to develop plans to strike the Islamic State militant group, which claimed responsibility.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude picked up 86 cents to $68.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used as the price basis for international oils, gained 84 cents to $71.91.

The dollar strengthened to 110.11 yen from Thursday's 110.06 yen. The euro eased to $1.1755 from $1.1759.