European stocks are expected to open lower Wednesday as investors react to a move by U.S. lawmakers to delay a vote on healthcare reform and comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen that confirmed plans to continue hiking interest rates.
Each of the major European indices are poised to give back weekly gains, according to opening price calls from financial bookmakers IG, although London's FTSE 100 is likely to track movements in the pound, which rose to 1.2871 against the U.S. dollar in overnight Asia trading.
The euro was also finding favor among global investors, rising to a nearly one-year high of 1.1351 against the dollar after yesterday's signal from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on changing policy tools and moving to a more standard form of interest rate management amid improving growth and inflation dynamics in the currency area.
Asia stocks were hit firmly with sell orders Wednesday falling the biggest single-day decline on Wall Street for at least six weeks after Senate lawmakers killed a vote on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's 'Better Care Reconciliation Act' healthcare plan that appeared to lack the support of his Republican colleagues.
The surprise decision hammered sector stocks, pulling the Nasdaq 100 points, or 1.6% lower, by the end of the session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average followed suit, giving back just over 98 points into the close while the broader S&P 500 ended the session down 0.8%.
Investors may have been further spooked by comments from Fed chair Janet Yellen, who told an audience in London that it would be "appropriate" to raise interest rates very gradually in order to attain the Fedd's twin mandate of full employment and price stability.
However, she also noted to U.S. equity market valuations seemed "rich" at present, even as she assured that banking and financial sector reforms put in place during the global crisis in 2008 should mean that we won't experience a similar event in our lifetimes.
Global oil prices remain sensitive to any signal of increasing U.S. production, with prices falling in overnight trading after the American Petroleum Institute said its private survey of domestic crude stockpiles rose by 851,000 barrels last week against a market expectations of a 2.6 million barrel decline.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for August delivery were marked 0.5% lower at $44.24 while Brent contracts for the same month, the global benchmark, were seen 0.23% lower at $46.54.