Now the focus is very much on the Fed, which is expected to cut its main interest rate for the first time in more than a decade from the current range of 2.25-2.50%. "With markets pricing a 79% chance of a 25-basis point cut, there is still an outside chance of a dramatic 50-basis point shift today," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.
In Europe, France's CAC 40 was up 0.1% at 5,518 while Germany's DAX edged up 0.2% to 12,176. The FTSE 100 of leading British shares, which has outperformed its European counterparts this week, was 0.7% lower at 7,595.
Wall Street was poised for modest gains at the bell with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures both up 0.3%. Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.9% to 21,521.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5% to 6,812.60. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.7% to 2,024.55. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.3% to 27,777.75, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.7% to 2,932.51.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil added 40 cents to $58.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, the international standard, gained 43 cents to $65.06 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The euro was flat at $1.1146 while the dollar was steady at 108.56 yen.