European stock markets were mixed, French bond yields hit a record low and the euro climbed against the dollar Wednesday with all eyes on central bank policy decisions in the face of deep economic strains.
Markets were unsure whether the Federal Reserve would announce fresh stimulus measures aimed at boosting the world's biggest economy at the conclusion Wednesday of the US central bank's latest monetary policy meeting.
Traders were also waiting on the European Central Bank to see if it would announce Thursday new policy moves, after ECB chief Mario Draghi last week said the Frankfurt-based bank was "ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro."
Approaching midday in London, the benchmark FTSE 100 index grew 0.53 percent to 5,664.17 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 edged up 0.06 percent to 6,776.25 points and in Paris the CAC 40 won 0.35 percent to 3,302.97.
Madrid's IBEX 35 though slid 0.81 percent and Milan's FTSE-MIB lost 0.54 percent.
France's 10-year bond yield hit a record low level near 2.0 percent as investors turned to French debt as a safehaven from problems hurting eurozone laggers Spain and Italy.
In late morning trade, the rate of return asked by investors to hold French 10-year bonds fell to 2.010 percent, replacing a previous record set on July 20.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro rose to $1.2316 from $1.2302 in New York late on Tuesday.
"All eyes will be on the US Federal Reserve tonight as they announce their latest interest rate decision with much anticipation from the markets," said Simon Denham, head of Capital Spreads trading group.
"The rationale behind pumping more money into the system in order to keep the economy growing is simple enough. The US economy is slowing and it's slowing at a worryingly quick pace."
In company news, shares in Societe Generale slipped 0.31 percent to 17.95 euros in Wednesday trade after the French banking giant posted net profits down 42 percent in the second quarter.
Britain's Standard Chartered saw its shares jump 3.99 percent to 1,523 pence after the Asia-focused bank said its first-half net profit rose 12 percent to a record high thanks to strong revenue growth.
The lender's profit after tax for the six months to June 30 rose to $2.81 billion from a year earlier.
In Frankfurt, BMW slumped 3.88 percent to 58.41 euros after the German luxury carmaker said its net profits dropped sharply in the second quarter of the year despite strong sales growth in Asia, especially in China.
Asian stock markets closed mostly down on Wednesday as nervous investors awaited the outcome of a key US Federal Reserve meeting amid low expectations of any new easing measures.
Tokyo fell 0.61 percent, Seoul slipped 0.10 percent and Sydney was down 0.15 percent.
But Shanghai shares won 0.94 percent on data revealing that China's manufacturing activity picked up modestly to a three-month high in July.
HSBC bank said its closely watched purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gauges nationwide manufacturing activity, posted a reading of 49.3 in July compared to 48.2 in the previous month.