TOKYO - Global stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday as jittery investors played it safe ahead of a potentially pivotal Federal Reserve meeting and the referendum on Scotland's independence on Thursday.
Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent to 9,620.59 and France's CAC-40 declined 0.5 percent to 4,404.69. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.2 percent to 6,791.57. Wall Street appeared set for more losses. Standard & Poor's 500 futures were down 0.1 percent and Dow futures fell 0.2 percent.
Fed policy makers start a two-day meeting on Tuesday that many investors expect will bring it closer to raising its key interest rate as the economy strengthens. The Fed has held the rate close to zero for more than five years, and stocks have surged against that backdrop.
"Speculation that the Fed will commence their tightening cycle sooner than expected has been the key driver across most markets over the past week or so," William Leys of CMC Markets said in a commentary. "However, at this stage, the Fed's apparent hawkish revision is just conjecture and there are no certainties."
The British pound has turned volatile in recent weeks as opinion polls narrowed ahead of Thursday's independence referendum in Scotland, which could spark a sizeable panic in U.K. markets. On Monday, the pound was 0.2 percent lower at $1.6231.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2 percent to 15,911.53 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 2,042.92. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.9 percent to 24,136.01 after a trading session abbreviated by a morning typhoon warning. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5 percent to5,445.40. Markets in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia also fell.
The euro rose to $1.2942 from $1.2939 late Monday. The dollar was flat at 107.10 yen.
Benchmark U.S. crude was down 29 cents to $92.64 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 65 cents to $92.92 a barrel on Monday.