Global Stocks Higher Amid Interest Rate Uncertainty

BEIJING (AP) -- Global stock markets were mostly higher Tuesday as investors watched for signs of whether central banks will try to cool inflation by speeding up withdrawal of economic stimulus that is boosting share prices.

London and Frankfurt opened higher. Shanghai and Tokyo advanced. Hong Kong declined.

Wall Street futures were higher after the benchmark S&P 500 index sank Monday on losses for tech and communications companies.

Markets have been uneasy since Federal Reserve officials said in mid-December plans to withdraw record-low interest rates and other stimulus would be accelerated to cool inflation that is at multi-decade highs.

Investors expect the European Central Bank to adopt a more hawkish policy for the euro at its March meeting after its board said last week that inflation risks were rising. The ECB president, Christine Lagarde, tried Monday to dampen talk of rate hikes, saying any change "will be very gradual."

The prospect of tighter monetary policy "has prompted asset markets to falter," Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank said in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.7% to 7,624.31 and Frankfurt's DAX added 0.6% to 15,281.34. The CAC 40 in Paris was 0.7% higher at 7,057.77.

On Wall Street, futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.2%.

The S&P 500 sank 0.4% on Monday. The benchmark is 6.5% below its Jan. 3 high. The Dow was little-changed while the Nasdaq composite fell 0.6%.

In Asia, Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7% to 3,452.63 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 1% to 24,329.49.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.1% to 27,284.52 after the government reported labor cash earnings declined 0.2% from a year earlier in December. Core household spending fell 1% from the previous month.

The Kospi in Seoul gained less than 0.1% to 2,746.47 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained advanced 1.1% to 7,186.70.

India's Sensex shed 0.2% to 57,518.66. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok rose while Jakarta declined.

Traders are trying to figure out how stocks will be affected as the Fed carries out plans to accelerate the withdrawal of stimulus. Investors expect at least four rate hikes this year, starting next month.

The ECB is expected to take longer to wind down bond purchases that are meant to depress market interest rates by pumping money into the financial system.

Investors are waiting for U.S. consumer inflation data Thursday, which might influence Fed planning.

Also this week, central banks in India, Thailand and Indonesia hold policy meetings.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 51 cents top $90.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract 99 cents to $91.32 on Monday. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, shed 61 cents to $92.08 per barrel in London. It declined 58 cents the previous session to $92.69.

The dollar gained to 115.34 yen from Monday's 115.08 yen. The euro declined to $1.1409 from $1.1442.