LONDON - Global stock markets faltered Wednesday amid further signs that the rally since the February lows has run its course and traders are pondering which way the next move will be.
At around 8 a.m. Eastern in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent to 6,145, while Germany's DAX slid 0.8 percent to 9,961. France's CAC 40 was 0.9 percent lower at 4,298. Wall Street was poised for a soft opening too, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down around 0.2 percent.
So far this year, there have been a number of catalysts in financial markets, notably worries over the scale of the economic slowdown in China and the precipitous fall in the price of oil. Those issues have taken a bit of a backseat lately, helping stocks recover the ground lost in the first few weeks of the year. With the economic news flow this week fairly light, traders are looking for direction signs.
David Cheetham, market analyst at XTB, said the market appears to be "consolidating ahead of another big move after pulling back from highs following a strong rally since the February low."
Asian stock markets finished mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 percent to 16,579.01, while China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to 2,837.04. But South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 1,980.10, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slumped 0.9 percent to 20,055.29.
Stocks in Australia and the Philippines were higher but markets in Singapore, Taiwan and India were lower.
Benchmark U.S. crude was flat at $44.66, while Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 30 cents to $45.82 a barrel in London.
The euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.14, while the dollar fell 0.5 percent to 108.67 yen.