Markets steady as focus turns toward upcoming US jobs data

LONDON — Global stock markets traded in narrow ranges Tuesday as traders took a breather ahead of upcoming U.S. jobs data that could cement market expectations for another U.S. interest rate rise next week.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 0.1 percent at 11,972 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.1 percent to 7,353. The CAC 40 in France underperformed its peers, trading 0.3 percent lower at 4,958. U.S. stocks were poised for a fairly flat opening, with Dow futures and S&P futures both 0.1 percent lower.

FED FOCUS: Policymakers at the Federal Reserve are now in their quiet period before next week's meeting, which many in the markets think will herald another interest rate hike. Whether one materializes could hinge on this Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for February.

ANALYST TAKE: "The Fed's blackout period and the build up to this week's big data point — the U.S. jobs report — has offered the opportunity for some reflection for investors," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "The last few weeks has seen the focus switch from Donald Trump's plans to revitalize the U.S. economy with tax cuts, substantial infrastructure spending and deregulation back to the Fed, partly because we still have little idea of what the former will entail and partly because the Fed suddenly decided to send a coordinated message that it plans to raise interest rates."

CHINA CONFIDENCE: China's financial minister, Xiao Jie, told reporters risks from financing were manageable. "China's government debt risks are generally within control," the official Xinhua News Agency cited Xiao as saying on the sidelines of the annual session of the national legislature. He said total net debt amounted to 27.33 trillion yuan (about $3.96 trillion dollars) or about 36.7 percent of the country's GDP.

ASIA'S DAY: The Nikkei 225 stock index in Tokyo edged 0.2 percent lower to 19,344.15 but most other indexes gained. The Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 23,681.07 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.3 percent to 3,242.41. Australia's S&P ASX 200 climbed 0.3 percent to 5,761.40 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.6 percent to 2,094.05.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to $53.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 25 cents to $56.26 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.0578 while the dollar rose 0.1 percent to 114.03 yen.

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