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Markets subdued ahead of Yellen’s second testimony

February 25, 2015

LONDON (AP) — Financial markets were subdued Wednesday ahead of another round of testimony from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and as the uncertainty over the future of Greece dissipated following confirmation by the country’s creditors that it should have its bailout extended by four months.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 was down 0.2 percent at 4,875 while Germany’s DAX was steady at 11,203. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares inched down from its record closing high on Tuesday to trade 0.3 percent lower at 6,928. U.S. stocks were poised for a fairly flat opening with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.1 percent — both indexes struck all-time highs on Tuesday, too.

FED FACTOR: On Wednesday, markets were buoyed by comments to the U.S. Senate from Yellen, suggesting that the central bank would be patient in raising interest rates because the job market is still healing and inflation is too low. Lower interest rates make borrowing easier and tend to be a plus for markets. Yellen will address the House of Representatives later Wednesday.

ANALYST TAKE: “With only new home sales in terms of data things might not be as explosive as yesterday come closing time this evening,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.

GREECE GAZE: Following a month where it’s been at the forefront of investors’ thoughts, Greece is less of an issue now. On Tuesday, Greece’s European creditors approved a reform plan by Athens that will mean the country’s bailout continues — the only hurdle remaining is that some countries have to back the extension in parliament. Relief that the Greece issue has been addressed for now helped markets post their solid gains on Tuesday.

ASIA’S DAY: It was a similarly subdued tone in Asia. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.1 percent to finish at 18,585.20 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,944.90. Hong Kong Hang Seng gained 0.1 percent to 24,778.28, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.7 percent to 1,990.47.

CURRENCIES: It was no different in the currency markets where the euro was flat at $1.13247 and the dollar was up 0.1 percent at 118.89 yen.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to $49.53 after falling for the fifth day in a row. Brent crude, used to price international oil, rose 6 cents to $58.72 in London.

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