Global stocks steady ahead of US-China summit

Investor attention focuses on a highly-anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping

Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher on Thursday, shrugging off concerns about US monetary policy, as the US and Chinese presidents arrived in Florida for a summit expected to focus on trade and North Korea.

US stocks recovered from a sell-off the previous day spurred by Federal Reserve meeting minutes suggesting a more aggressive monetary tightening policy than the market had anticipated.

The firmer market in New York helped put a floor under earlier losses in Europe, as well as indications from the European Central Bank that it has no plans to start rolling back its policy of easy money any time soon.

Investors are also eyeing a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

"Any sense that the summit is proceeding in a very amicable way could give way to a relief rally in the next few sessions," Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare said.

"Conversely, less amicable-sounding communications could spark the opposite."

Analysts are looking ahead to Friday's official Labor Department jobs report, which is expected to show the economy added 215,000 jobs in March and that unemployment held steady at 4.7 percent.

US stocks finished modestly higher, with the S&P 500 gaining 0.2 percent.

In Europe, stock prices recovered from their earlier weakness, with stocks in London paring back their losses, while the blue-chip indices in Frankfurt and Paris ended the session in positive territory.

- No change from ECB -

ECB chief Mario Draghi said the central bank will not raise interest rates before ending its mass bond-buying program, quashing speculation that a mounting eurozone recovery would prompt him to change course.

"We are not yet at a stage where inflation dynamics can be self-sustaining without monetary policy support," he told a Frankfurt conference.

Earlier, Japanese stocks had fallen to a four-month low following the Fed minutes, which suggested that policymakers are considering unwinding the $4.5 trillion-worth of Treasury bills and other assets on its books.

At the moment, the Fed reinvests principal payments it receives from its bond holdings back into the market -- maintaining the size of its portfolio and the amount of money in the system.

Winding back on reinvestments would take money out of the financial system.

"This is huge news for traders in fixed-interest and global markets more broadly. It means that a source of demand in US fixed-interest markets is going to be reduced," AxiTrader chief market strategist Greg McKenna said in a note.

"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but taking the Fed out of the bond market will reverberate across global financial markets."

- Key figures at 2040 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 20,662.95 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 2,357.49 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 5,878.95 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,303.20 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 12,230.89 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,121.44 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,492.51

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.4 percent at 18,597.06 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 24,273.72 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,281.00 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0642 from $1.0672

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2465 from $1.2491

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.76 from 110.67 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 53 cents at $54.89 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 55 cents at $51.70 per barrel

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