Stock market today: World shares are mixed as Japan's Nikkei 225 hits a new high, with eyes on Fed

Shares advanced in Europe on Wednesday after most markets in Asia declined, although Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index closed at another record high.

Investors are awaiting comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to a congressional committee and looking ahead to earnings reports.

Germany’s DAX gained 0.2% to 18,280.58 and the CAC 40 in Paris was nearly unchanged at 7,510.64. In London, the FTSE 100 added 0.3% to 8,166.49.

The future for the S&P 500 edged 0.1% higher while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1%.

In Asian trading, the Japanese benchmark gained 0.6% to close at 41,831.99. It also had a record close on Tuesday, and hit an all-time high of 41,889.16 during the day Wednesday.

The Nikkei 225 has advanced nearly 30% in the past year and is up 5% in the past three months.

Investors have been snapping up technology-related shares as enthusiasm builds over the potential of artificial intelligence. Export-oriented companies have also seen strong gains since their profits have soared due to the weakness of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slipped 0.2% to 17,479.12, while the Shanghai Composite index gave up 0.7% to 2,939.36.

China reported that its consumer price index slipped to 0.2% in June from 0.3% in May, below expectations largely due to declines in prices for foods other than pork.

“Weak consumer confidence continues to drive consumption in the direction of seeking better value-for-money purchases, and competition in the EV sector continues to drive prices down, suppressing overall inflation,” Lynn Song of ING Economics said in a commentary.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.2% lower, at 7,816.80.

In Seoul, the Kospi was nearly unchanged at 2,867.99. Taiwan’s Taiex gained 0.5% while India’s Sensex lost 0.7%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite each rose 0.1%, enough to bump up the indexes to all-time highs for the second time this week. The Dow fell 0.1%.

Stocks have been gaining ground steadily over the last several months and that has helped push the S&P 500 to 36 records so far this year.

In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee, Fed chair Powell reiterated that inflation has eased notably in the past two years, though it exceeds the central bank’s 2% target. There’s a risk in the Fed moving to cut interest rates too late or too little, he said, warning that either scenario could end up weaking the economy and job market.

Powell is scheduled to testify later Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee.

Wall Street expects a report on Thursday to show consumer prices eased to 3.1% in June from 3.3% in May. A report for inflation at the wholesale level, before costs are passed on to consumers, is expected Friday.

Traders are still betting that there’s a 70% chance that the central bank will cut its main interest rate as soon as September, according to data from CME Group.

The Fed has remained cautious about making a move on interest rates, holding its benchmark interest rate at its highest level in more than two decades as it waits cautiously for more signals that inflation is still cooling.

Among earnings reports this week, Delta Air Lines will report its results on Thursday.

Updates from JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will come Friday. They could provide more insight into consumer debt levels and whether banks are worried about payments and potential delinquencies.

In other dealings early Wednesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 46 cents to $80.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 53 cents to $84.13 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 161.40 Japanese yen from 161.34 yen. The euro climbed to $1.0824 from $1.0813.

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