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Global stock markets rise ahead of Fed statement, keep wary eye on China

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TOKYO — Global stock markets rose Wednesday as Chinese shares rebounded after a record sell-off and attention turned to a Federal Reserve meeting that might give clues about the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent to 4,987.80 and Germany's DAX added almost 0.1 percent to 11,172.36. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent to 6,592.59. U.S. shares were set to rise. Wall Street was set to rise, with S&P 500 and Dow futures each 0.2 percent higher.

FED MEETING: Traders are focusing on the U.S. Federal Reserve as they try to assess when interest rates will rise. Fed policymakers started a two-day meeting Tuesday. Many expect the Fed to raise interest rates for the first time since the global financial crisis in either September or December. Ultra-low interest rates have spurred stock markets for several years.

ASIA'S DAY: China's Shanghai Composite Index rebounded 3.4 percent to close at 3,789.17 after flitting between gains and losses for most of Wednesday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 24,619.45. Japan's Nikkei 225 inched down 0.1 percent to close at 20,302.91. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 2,037.62. Taiwan's benchmark fell while Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia rose.

CHINA JITTERS: Alarm over the sharp fall in Chinese shares has abated somewhat after the Shanghai index steadied following Monday's 8.5 percent dive. Many market commentators say 3,500 is a level for the index that Chinese authorities will aggressively defend. The economic effects of the past month's slide in Chinese shares is likely to be limited as a low proportion of households are stock investors and levels of private savings are among the highest in the world.

THE QUOTE: "The major issue for investors is the level of growth and demand in China's overall economy rather than the stock market itself," said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. But he expects "many will remain cautious until there is some confirmation of a definite trend change in this market with prices continuing to move clearly away from yesterday's support levels."

EARNINGS SEASON: Investors are watching for earnings reports and forecasts. In Europe, shares in Barclays rose 1.8 percent after its reported a sevenfold rise in profits in the second quarter. Volkswagen, however, saw its stock fall 2.6 percent after it said its earnings slipped despite taking the global lead in sales over Toyota and GM.

Wall Street was cheered Tuesday by strong results from UPS, Ford and other big companies. Lowered earnings forecasts from some companies, such as major Japanese robotics company Fanuc, sent the Nikkei down.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 25 cents to $47.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 59 cents to close at $47.98 a barrel in New York on Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.1058 from $1.1068 in the previous trading session. The dollar rose to 123.55 yen from 123.57 yen.

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