Europe's markets steadied as investors also digested news that Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange
Hong Kong - Arab Today
Global investors traded cautiously Wednesday ahead of a monetary policy announcement in the United States and an annual budget in Britain.
Investors hope that the Federal Reserve's latest meeting will provide some guidance on its plans for interest rates this year.
"European equity markets are trading little changed to moderately higher ... awaiting today's (Fed) meeting and (the) UK's budget announcement," said trader Markus Huber at brokerage City of London Markets.
Europe's markets steadied as investors also digested news that Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange have agreed terms on their planned blockbuster merger to create one of the world's biggest exchanges.
"Merger and acquisition activity has boosted sentiment ... after the LSE and Deutsche Boerse agreed to press ahead with a merger," noted CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler.
Oil prices also recovered after a sharp two-day sell-off, although there is growing nervousness over talks between key producers about a possible output freeze aimed at addressing a global supply glut.
With few other catalysts to drive trade, investors played it safe before the end of the Fed meeting and a statement from its head, Janet Yellen.
While no new measures are expected from the meeting, Yellen's comments will be pored over for clues to policymakers' thinking after December's first interest rate rise in almost a decade.
That rise was followed by two months of wild volatility across global markets that wiped trillions off valuations.
Meanwhile in Britain, finance minister George Osborne will present his latest austerity budget at 1230 GMT.
The Conservative government's finance chief is expected to deliver another £4.0 billion ($5.7 billion, 5.1 billion euros) of cuts.
Back in Asia on Wednesday, Hong Kong stocks closed 0.2 percent lower.
Shanghai ended up 0.2 percent for its fourth straight gain, after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the close of the National People's Congress the economy would not suffer a hard landing.
Sydney gained 0.2 percent and Seoul was 0.3 percent higher.
Tokyo finished 0.8 percent lower, despite a weaker yen that came after the Bank of Japan defended its negative interest rate policy and hinted at further cuts aimed at kickstarting lending.
- Key figures around 1130 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent to 6,152.20 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 9,978
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 4,468.90
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,063.90
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 16,974.45 (close)
Shanghai - composite: UP 0.2 percent at 2,870.43 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 20,257.70 (close)
New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 17,251.53 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1090 from $1.1110 on Tuesday