Global stocks meander after strong start to week

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets meandered round fairly narrow ranges Wednesday following a stellar start to the week that its roots in a rebounding oil prices.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 10,366 while the CAC- 40 of France was up 0.1 percent at 4,571. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares was down 0.2 percent to 6,392. Wall Street was set for a flat opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.

OIL PRICES: Crude has been at the heart of stock market moves this year and their rebound this week have been viewed as a sign that the global economic outlook has improved. On Wednesday, the benchmark New York rate was down 61 cents at $41.86 a barrel while the international standard, Brent, fell 54 cents to $43.49.

ANALYST TAKE: "After such an incredible start to the week, the ability to maintain such an intense pace of stock market gains was always questionable," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG. "For now, it feels like where oil prices go, everything follows."

EUROPE FOCUS: Investors are also turning their eyes to Thursday's policy meeting of the European Central Bank. Though the bank is not expected to announce any further stimulus measures, investors will be interested to hear what ECB President Mario Draghi might say at the news conference. Doubts persist whether the stimulus measures the bank has taken are really working, such as cutting interest rates and expanding a government bond-buying.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.2 percent to finish at 16,906.54 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5 percent to 5,281.20. But most other regional markets fell. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.3 percent to 2,005.83. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9 percent to 21,236.31, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 2.3 percent to 2,972.58, after dipping by over 4 percent toward the end of the day.

CURRENCIES: In currency markets, the euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.1382 while the dollar fell 0.1 percent to 109.18 yen.