Stocks mixed, Dollar edges lower ahead of Fed

Stocks in Europe followed Asian peers lower as investors began to switch their attention away from the Federal Reserve and back to earnings and the outlook for global trade. The central bank is meeting this week as its board is undergoing a makeover, with a raft of new appointees by President Donald Trump who appear generally supportive of the Fed's cautious approach to rates since the Great Recession ended.

The U.S. central bank kept the interest rates unchanged on Wednesday after concluding its two-day monetary policy meeting, in line with market expectations.

But investors say they will be looking through the Fed's policy statement to glean clues as to the central bank's thinking on inflation and the path of interest rates.

U.S. investors fretted about the acknowledgement of rising inflation. In other words, two percent is not viewed as a ceiling for inflation. "Inflation on a 12-month basis is expected to run near the Committee's symmetric 2 per cent objective over the medium term", officials said, adding that the risks to the outlook were "roughly balanced".

The Fed also indicated that inflation has firmed, coming closer to the Fed's two percent target.

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With the Fed's meeting out of the way, focus is shifting to U.S.jobs data due on Friday for further indications of the strength of the economy and inflation pressures.

The country's unemployment rate is now at a 17-year low of 4.1 per cent. The pound headed for its first increase in six days, while the euro pared an advance after manufacturing in the region grew at the slowest pace in more than a year and first-quarter economic growth ebbed.

"It looks like it maybe calmed some nerves (of investors) who maybe were expecting a faster pace of hikes because of the rise in inflation", said Collin Martin, fixed income strategist at Schwab Center for Financial Research in NY. The Fed raised rates in March.

The Fed's decision Wednesday, which had been expected, came on an 8-0 vote.

"The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate", the Fed wrote in a statement that was little changed from its last announcement in March, except for comments about closing in on the inflation target. The Fed said inflation had "moved close" to its target, and the "price stability" part of its dual mandate from Congress had nearly reached its two-percent target. A year ago, the 10-year yield was just 2.3 percent. As rates rise, Americans feel it because their credit card rates also climb, as do the rate for mortgages, auto loans and small business loans.


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