Asian stock markets were trading flat on Thursday after the Federal Reserve did little to alter investor expectations that interest rates in the US are likely on hold for the remainder of this year. Treasuries steadied.
Chinese companies led losses, while declines were more modest in Japan and Australia. Futures on the S&P 500 Index were flat after climbing Wednesday following unexpectedly soft inflation data that boosted the Fed’s wait-and-see approach to rate hikes.
Australian bonds climbed, tracking overnight moves higher in sovereign debt as central bankers detailed weakness in the economic outlook. The pound was steady as European Union leaders agreed to extend the date of Britain’s departure from the bloc to October 31.
Global equities are showing signs of fatigue after a strong start to the year. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reiterated warnings that global risks continue to batter the region’s economy as the ECB signalled no rate hikes for the rest of 2019. Despite a U.S. economy that is forecast to grow above trend with low unemployment, Fed minutes showed concern about external drags such as slowing European growth, the potential of a disruptive Brexit and the ongoing trade war.
Elsewhere, oil traded just off a five-month high after US government data showed the biggest drop in gasoline stockpiles since 2017.