World Shares are Mostly Higher; Shanghai Slips After Fitch Cuts China Outlook

BANGKOK (AP) -- Shares opened higher Wednesday in Europe after a mixed session in Asia, as investors awaited an update on U.S. inflation a t the consumer level.

Germany's DAX advanced 0.8% to 18,210.76 and the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.6% to 8,094.66. In London, the FTSE 100 climbed 0.6% to 7,981.01.

The futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both were up 0.1%.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.9% to 17,139.17, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.7% to 3,027.33 after Fitch Ratings lowered its outlook for China's public finances.

The report by Fitch cited increased risks due to China's shift away from reliance on its troubled property sector and rising public debt.

"There is little clarity on reform measures to support medium-term fiscal consolidation," it said.

China's Finance Ministry issued a statement saying it regretted Fitch's decision to downgrade its outlook and insisting that risks from mounting debts were under control.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gave up 0.5% to 39,581.81 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney gained 0.3%, to 7,848.50.

India's Sensex advanced 0.4% and the SET in Bangkok climbed 0.7%.

Markets in South Korea were closed for an election.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 edged up 0.1% after barely budging the day before. The Dow slipped less than 0.1%, while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3%.

Later Wednesday the U.S. will release its highly anticipated update on consumer inflation. This week will also bring other reports on inflation, and big U.S. companies will begin reporting how much profit they made during the first three months of the year.

The dominant question hanging over Wall Street is whether inflation will cool enough to convince the Federal Reserve to deliver the cuts to interest rates that traders are craving and have been betting on.

"There's a palpable sense of nervousness among investors as they exercise a modicum of restraint, concerned about the possibility of hotter-than-expected inflation figures," Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

Some doubts have crept in following a series of hotter -than- expectedreports on the economy, and traders now expect just two or three cuts to rates this year. Some are even talking about the possibility of zero. That's down from forecasts at the start of the year for six or seven cuts, according to data from CME Group.

The Fed's main interest rate is at its highest level in more than two decades and the risk is that rates left too high for too long might cause a recession.

While a jump in oil prices this year has raised worries about a feedthrough into inflation, oil would likely need to rise "well above levels seen even in the peak Russia-Ukraine commodity price spike for a meaningful impact on core inflation," the Bank of America strategists said in a BofA Global Research report.

U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 21 cents early Wednesday to $85.44 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, it fell $1.20 to settle at $85.23, trimming its gain for the year so far to below 20%.

Brent crude, the international standard, was up 22 cents to $89.64 per barrel, after falling 96 cents on Wednesday to $89.42 per barrel.

On Wall Street, Apple helped nudge the S&P 500 higher by rising 0.7%. It trimmed it loss for the year to a shade below 12%.

Norfolk Southern rose 1.3% even though the railroad reported preliminary earnings results for the first quarter that were shy of analysts' expectations.

It agreed to pay $600 million in a class-action lawsuit settlement related to a fiery train derailment last year in eastern Ohio. The company said the agreement, if approved by the court, will resolve all class action claims within a 20-mile radius from the derailment and personal injury claims within a 10-mile radius for those choosing to participate.

In currency dealings early Wednesday, the U.S. dollar rose to 151.88 Japanese yen from 151.75 yen. The euro rose to $1.0862 from $1.0857.