LONDON - China's main Shanghai stock index reversed earlier big losses to finish a bit higher on Wednesday, but most markets around the world drifted lower amid ongoing concerns over the state of the world's second-largest economy.
In Europe at 8:20 a.m ET, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 1 percent at 6,458, while Germany's DAX fell 1.4 percent to 10,764. The CAC-40 in France was 0.9 percent lower at 4,9363. U.S. stocks were poised for a lower opening with Dow futures 0.4 percent lower and the broader S&P 500 down 0.3 percent.
China's main Shanghai stock index was the main focus following a big slide during the previous session when investors sold Chinese stocks on fears that the country's currency, the yuan, would fall further. The yuan has been stable for a few days after a series of surprise devaluations by Beijing last week. Though a cheaper yuan is expected to boost exports, it has underscored concerns over the state of the Chinese economy.
On Wednesday, Chinese stocks ended higher, but only after a rollercoaster ride that saw them trade sharply lower earlier. The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.2 percent at 3,794.11 after plunging as much as 5 percent during the day.
"The Chinese equity market may have ended on a positive note, but the erratic swings should be viewed with caution, and such a wide trading range tells us that China will not be stable for some time," said David Madden, market analyst at IG.
Though China has been the main focus in the markets this week, investors have kept a beady eye on developments surrounding Greece's bailout. On Wednesday, German lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the bailout, one of the final hurdles required before Greece can get funds from the 86 billion-euro ($93 billion) rescue pot that will prevent its bankruptcy and secure its place in the euro.
On Thursday, Greece has a big repayment to make to the European Central Bank.
Investors will also be looking for clues about when the U.S. central bank will begin to raise interest rates for the first time in years when the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its July meeting later Wednesday. The Fed appeared on track to raise interest rates later this year but signaled that it wants to see further economic gains and higher inflation before doing so.
Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 1.6 percent to 20,223, and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.9 percent to 1,939. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 1.3 percent at 23,168. But Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.5 percent to 5,380. Stocks in Taiwan and Indonesia were also lower, but markets in Thailand and New Zealand were stable.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 27 cent to $42.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 4 cents to $48.85 per barrel.
The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.1040 while the dollar was flat at 124.36 yen.