PARIS — Global markets were in a largely wait-and-see mood Wednesday as they waited to see if the U.S. Federal Reserve would move to stimulate the U.S. economy and if Greece’s creditors would continue to prop up the struggling country.
Investors have taken some encouragement in recent days from signs that Greece is making progress in its talks with its three creditors, the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but that optimism seemed to have run its course by Wednesday.
Before handing over the next installment of Greece’s bailout loan — which it relies on to pay its bills — the creditors are trying to verify that Athens is making the reforms and budget cuts it promised.
If the (euro) 8 billion ($11 billion) doesn’t come by mid-October, Greece will run out of money and likely default, which would send shockwaves throughout the eurozone.
Concerns that could happen have rattled stock markets in recent weeks, particularly dragging down the shares of banks believed to hold substantial amounts of Greek debt.
On Wednesday, the bounce from positive signs from the talks earlier in the week appeared to have worn off. The talks will continue this weekend.
In France, the CAC-40 fell 1 percent to 2,955 while Germany’s DAX was 1 percent lower too at 5,515. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent at 5,352.
The euro, which was hard hit last week by the mounting uncertainty over Greece, has held its own this week amid hopes the country will get the next batch of bailout cash. It was trading 0.1 percent lower Wednesday at $1.3676.
While Europe’s debt crisis has spooked markets, investors have also fretted about a faltering global economic recovery. The IMF lowered its forecast for global growth on Tuesday to 4 percent for this year and next.
That dragged down oil prices Wednesday. Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 26 cents at $86.66 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
With signs that the economic recovery is slowing, investors are looking to see what the Fed says later after the completion of its two-day policy meeting. Analysts said markets appeared to be holding out hope for a new injection of stimulus — possibly by buying up longer maturity bonds.
But Neil Mellor of Bank of New York Mellon cautioned that even if the Fed does act, it’s unlikely to be a solution.
“(U.S. Fed Chairman) Ben Bernanke is only too aware of the waning impact of the Fed’s few policy tools and the questions that will be raised should he implement a further round of asset purchases whose impact proves as ephemeral as its predecessors,” said Mellor.
Earlier in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.9 percent to 1,854.28 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent at 4,071.80. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1 percent to 18,824.17.
Mainland Chinese shares saw their biggest advance so far this month, after the IMF report said growth would be a robust 9.5 percent this year and 9 percent next year. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gaining 2.7 percent to 2,512.96. The Shenzhen Composite Index gained 2.9 percent to 1,102.29.