European stocks are likely to drift lower Wednesday as investors maintain a cautious stance ahead of today's rate decision in economic projections from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Last night's triple-set of record highs on Wall Street failed to ripple through into Asia trading amid the tentative atmosphere ahead of the 2:00 pm eastern time rate announcement from Washington, with the U.S. dollar slipping 0.05% to 91.75 and the broadest measure of regional stocks, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index edging 0.05% higher.
European markets are likely to follow a similar pattern, with currency movements guiding the overall direction of trading in the absence of specific corporate news.
In that context, Britain's FTSE 100 is expected to add 5 points, or 0.07%, at the opening bell as the pound slides modestly to 1.3510 while benchmarks in Germany and France look set to notch similar early declines as the euro trades past the 1.20 mark against the U.S. dollar following a report from Reuters that suggested the European Central Bank has yet to decide how, or if, it will articulate the end of its €2.3 trillion quantitative easing program.
Global crude prices, however, were active overnight after Iraq's Oil Minister told reporters that OPEC members could still consider extending their production cut pact beyond the March 2018 deadline. He also said there was a chance the production cuts could deepen past the 1.8 million barrel per day level first agreed in November of last year.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for October delivery were marked 0.6% higher at $49.80 at 06:45 London time while Brent contracts for November were seen 0.25% higher at $55.25.
U.S. equity futures are essentially unchanged from last night's record closing highs, although the Dow Jones Industrial Average may bump 1.5 points higher at the opening bell.
More of What's Trending on TheStreet: