European stocks are expected to open mixed Wednesday as investors attempt to extend a global equity rally that has lifted holiday-thinned markets in Asia and boosted the U.S. dollar to a near six-week high ahead of today's statement from the Federal Reserve.
Currency markets could provide a key to the session's trading activity as both the euro and the pound post gains against the greenback even as the dollar found favour in overnight Asia trade ahead of today's Fed meeting, with investors betting that chairwoman Janet Yellen will provide more specific signals for a June rate hike.
However, with the pound trading steadily over the 1.29 mark, and oil prices still on the back foot despite an overnight rebound, Britain's FTSE 100 is expected to start the session 14 points lower while benchmarks in Germany and France posted modest opening bell gains.
The moves contrast a relatively tepid session overnight in Asia, where the region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 0.09% but remained within touching distance of a two-year high in limited trading, with markets in Hong Kong and South Korea closed for religious celebrations. Markets in Japan were also closed, and will remain so for the remainder of the country's Golden Week holidays.
Nonetheless, investors were buoyed by solid underlying economic data from both Europe and the United States, as well as the strength of tech sector earnings -- outside of Apple Inc. (AAPL) - with optimism lifting stocks and taking the dollar to mutli-week highs against a basket of six global currencies.
Apple's mixed earnings report, however, dampened some of the sector's enthusiasm as the world's largest tech company missed analysts' estimates for first quarter revenue growth and fell short of forecasts for sales of its iconic iPhone.
The downdraft has, for the moment, weighed on U.S. equity futures, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average priced to open 27 points lower at the opening bell and the S&P 500 poised to fall 7 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is priced for a sharper 18 points decline.