Stocks steady as investors await Fed meeting

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By The Associated Press, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets turned cautious Monday as investors waited for the U.S. Federal Reserve's monthly meeting for clues on when the central bank will start reducing its monetary stimulus.

With uncertainty over the raising of the U.S. borrowing limit temporarily resolved, investors have focused on other matters, notably when the Fed will reduce its mammoth monetary stimulus that has been a boon for stock markets.

U.S. hiring and durable goods orders for September were weaker than expected, signaling that growth momentum may be slowing and reinforcing expectations that a scaling back of stimulus known as "tapering" won't begin until next year, Mitul Kotecha of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.

Further U.S. data releases this week including September industrial production, retail sales, inflation and consumer confidence as well as a Fed policy meeting could reaffirm that expectation, he said. The Fed is buying $85 billion of U.S. government bonds and other securities with the aim of keeping interest rates low to support economic recovery.

"The bad news is good philosophy of markets means that data is helping to aid expectations that Fed tapering may be delayed," he said. "We continue to anticipate tapering to begin in January although admittedly the market is shifting expectations to even later."

Although Asian indexes closed higher, trading became more cautious in Europe and the U.S.

Germany's DAX closed 0.1 percent lower at 8,978.65, while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent to 6,725.82. The CAC-40 in France slipped 0.5 percent to 4,251.61.

Wall Street was steady, with the Dow up 0.1 percent at 15,589.54 and the S&P 500 up 0.2 percent to 1,763.76, a record high. The index had been buoyed last week by technology stocks such as Microsoft and Amazon.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 2.2 percent to close at 14,396.04, recovering from a big drop last week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 22,806.58.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rebounded from earlier losses to rise fractionally to 2,133.87, putting aside worries over a possible credit crunch following the Chinese central bank's refusal last week to inject funds into money markets to curb frothy credit growth.

Benchmarks in Taiwan, Seoul, Malaysia and Singapore were also higher.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was up 42 cents at $98.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 74 cents on Friday.

The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3792, while the dollar shed 0.1 percent against the Japanese yen, to 97.69 yen.

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