World markets edge lower with Fed outlook muddled

TOKYO - Global shares were mostly lower Monday, trading within a narrow range as cautious investors considered the most recent comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Yellen said Friday slow US. recovery from the Great Recession has surprised economists, confounding long-held beliefs about growth and inflation, but she did not discuss the Fed’s timetable for a rate hike.

At around 8 a.m. Eastern, France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.3 percent to 4,460. Germany’s DAX was down 0.3 percent to 10,548. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.6 percent to 6,973.

U.S. shares appeared set to drift lower with Dow futures losing 0.1 percent to 18,036, as S&P 500 futures also fell 0.1 percent to 2,124.

The possibility that the Fed may raise interest rates is weighing on market players’ minds, given Yellen’s comments last week. “Yellen asked the same questions Bernanke asked several years back: can ostensibly cyclical downturns permanently damage the medium- and long-term trajectory of the economy? If so, shouldn’t the Fed do everything in its power to lift the actual trajectory back to where it might otherwise have been?” DBS Group Research said in a report.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 wobbled but finished 0.3 percent higher at 16,900. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.2 percent to 2,028, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.8 percent to 5,389. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent to 23,038, and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.7 percent to 3,041. The SET of Thailand dropped 0.2 percent to 1,474, and other markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.

U.S. benchmark crude oil picked up 20 cents to $50.55 a barrel in New York. It lost 9 cents to $50.35 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 3 cents to $51.92 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 104.18 yen from 104.08 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro fell to $1.0978 from $1.1029.