European shares stalled near a seven-year high and Asian shares hit a six-week peak on Wednesday, a day before the European Central Bank is expected to announce a sovereign bond-buying program to boost the euro zone’s flagging economy.
The expectations of ECB action — with the potential stimulus seen at around 600 billion euros ($690 billion), according to a Reuters poll — also kept euro zone core bond yields near record lows and the euro close to an 11-year trough.
The Japanese yen meanwhile rose by around 1 percent against the U.S. dollar after the Bank of Japan left policy unchanged. While the decision not to expand its stimulus package had been widely expected, some had also bet on a surprise move as inflation targets looked elusive.
In London, sterling fell and equities rose after the minutes of British central bankers’ last policy meeting showed a rate rise was less likely. Two policymakers dropped their call for higher rates in the face of tumbling inflation.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 equity index was down 0.3 percent, at 1,418.46 points, while the MSCI World Index was flat. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.4 percent.
U.S. equity futures were down 0.3 percent. Shares of International Business Machines Corp fell in pre-market trading after the one-time world technology leader posted profit and revenue targets that were below expectations.