​Asian, European stocks rise as investor focus pivots to Fed

HONG KONG - European and Asian stocks extended gains Monday on expectations that central bankers meeting this week will keep intact policies supporting equity markets in some of the world's biggest economies.

European stocks opened higher, with Germany's DAX jumping 1.7 percent to 10,001.39 and France's CAC 40 adding 0.7 percent to 4,525.92. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent to 6,177.19.

U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, taking a breather after ending last week with a rally. Dow futures slipped 0.1 percent while broader S&P 500 futures lost 0.2 percent.

Investors are awaiting more central bank meetings after the European Central Bank followed through last week on its promise to provide more stimulus. The Fed wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday and while investors think there's little chance of a rate hike, they'll be watching to see whether policymakers are leaning toward such a move at their next major meeting in June. The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England are also due to meet this week though analysts don't expect any major policy changes. Australia's central bank is set to release meeting minutes on Tuesday, which will provide further insight.

"In recent weeks we have seen some encouraging data for the U.S. economy that are likely to have bolstered the Fed's confidence," said Jane Foley, strategist at Rabobank. "At the same time, not all the doves are convinced and they would like to see more evidence of inflation moving back toward the 2 percent target. This suggests that we should not expect a Fed rate hike this week, but we may see a consensus forming by the June meeting."

Chinese shares rose after the chief of the China Securities Regulatory Commission told a press conference over the weekend that it's too early to talk about winding back official support measures for the markets, according to the official Xinhua news agency. That suggests support for Chinese equities, which have gyrated since a meltdown last summer, will remain in place for a while longer.

Private sector machinery orders jumped 15 percent in January over a year earlier, the biggest such increase since comparable data became available starting in April 2005. Machinery orders are seen as a leading indicator, so some analysts say they expect capital spending to recover this year.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.7 percent to close at 17,233.75 while South Korea's Kospi was nearly flat at 1,972.27. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.2 percent to 20,435.34 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 1.8 percent to 2,859.50. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 finished 0.4 percent higher at 5,242.40. Shares in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also rose.

U.S. benchmark crude fell 74 cents to $37.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 66 cents, or 1.7 percent, to settle at $38.50 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 66 cents to $39.73 a barrel.

The dollar dipped to 113.55 yen from 113.81 yen while the euro weakened to $1.1123 from $1.1157.