US stocks edge to fresh records ahead of Fed decision



Wall Street stocks edged to fresh records Tuesday ahead of a Federal Reserve decision expected to announce the end of a post-financial crisis economic stimulus program.

The Fed waiting game hung over global markets, with London, Paris and Frankfurt moving higher, but only by modest margins. The Nikkei in Japan was an exception, surging two percent on momentum from a weakening yen.

In the US, all three major stock indices ended at fresh all-time highs on a combination of improving economic data, better corporate earnings and increased talk out of Washington about a long-awaited Republican tax cut plan.

That has allowed investors to brush off continued worries about geopolitical issues.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric on DPRK, threatening to "totally destroy" the country if it does not back down on its nuclear ambitions.

"The market remains extremely strong," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of 50 Park. "It continues to dismiss all negative headlines -- DPRK and geopolitical tensions, gridlock in Washington, two major hurricanes, a series of weaker than expected data. The bulls are still in control."

While the Fed is not expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday, remarks from the Fed and its boss Janet Yellen will be pored over for clues about future moves -- with talk of another rise -- and plans to wind down the vast bond-buying stimulus put in place during the financial crisis.

"I suspect they are not going to raise rates quite yet; I suspect they will guide towards December," said David Hussey, head of international core equities at Manulife Asset Management.

With global economic growth improving, major central banks around the world are mulling moves to tighten monetary policy.

That has sparked investor jitters over the impact of higher borrowing costs on consumers, businesses and financial markets.

"There's no reason not to start normalizing policy. People are obsessing about this," Hussey told AFP.

"The big picture is that we are at incredibly low rates and they have to start slowly moving back up to some sort of normal neutral level, which is probably some way higher than they are at the moment.

"So ... people see it coming and therefore they are nervous. It's as simple as that."

  • Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.2 percent at 22,370.80 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,506.65 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 6,461.32 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,275.25 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP less than 0.1 percent at 12,567.79 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,237.44 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,530.34

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.0 percent at 20,299.38 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,051.41 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,356.84 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1994 from $1.1954 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.60 yen from 111.56 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3521 from $1.3501

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 34 cents at $55.14 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 43 cents at $49.48 per barrel