Global Benchmarks are Mixed While US Seems Committed to Current Rates

TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares were trading mixed Wednesday, as expectations resurfaced that U.S. interest rates may stay high for a while.

France's CAC 40 surged 1.1% in early trading to 8,016.66, while Germany's DAX rose 0.5% to 17,854.58. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.5% 7,861.43. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.2% at 37,798.97. S&P 500 futures rose 0.3% to 5,106.75.

In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 1.3% to finish at 37,961.80. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down nearly 0.1% to 7,605.60. South Korea's Kospi dropped nearly 1.0% to 2,584.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed, inching up to 16,251.84, while the Shanghai Composite jumped 2.1% to 3,071.38.

The mixed reaction came after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at an event Tuesday that the central bank has been waiting to cut its main interest rate, which is at its highest level since 2001, because it first needs more confidence inflation is heading sustainably down to its 2% target.

"Appetite for risk-taking remains weak, with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell validating a later timeline for rate cuts, alongside a raft of Fed speakers calling for more patience in easing," said Yeap Jun Rong, market analyst at IG.

Powell suggested if higher inflation does persist, the Fed will hold rates steady "for as long as needed." But he also acknowledged the Fed could cut rates if the job market unexpectedly weakens.

"The recent data have clearly not given us greater confidence and instead indicate that it's likely to take longer than expected to achieve that confidence," Powell said, referring to a string of reports this year that showed inflation remaining hotter than forecast.

Traders are mostly betting on the Fed delivering just one or two cuts to interest rates this year after coming into 2024 expecting six or more.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude shed 35 cents to $85.01 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 34 cents to $89.68 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 154.56 Japanese yen from 154.65 yen. The euro cost $1.0644, up from $1.0617.