GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors look for Fed comfort amid Russia-Ukraine tensions
By Jamie McGeever
LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - The world's major stock, currency and bond markets steadied on Wednesday as investors focused more on an upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision than the continuing military tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
The U.S. central bank is expected to trim its bond-buying stimulus by $10 billion a month for a third time in a row later on Wednesday, as well as update its guidance on when interest rates will eventually rise.
The policy of steadily scaling back stimulus, while likely noting the economy's recent weakness is not solely down to harsh winter weather, should soothe any concerns investors might have had surrounding new Fed Chair Janet Yellen's first policy-setting meeting.
This shift in focus towards the Fed away from geopolitical concerns over Russia and Ukraine put a floor under stocks, which had opened lower following a strong start to the week.
It kept U.S. Treasuries and the dollar largely unchanged on the day within narrow ranges.
"European equities are taking a breather following strong gains earlier in the week," wrote Barclays strategists in a note to clients on Wednesday.
"Markets responded positively to the reassurance from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia does not need further division of Ukraine. More serious economic sanctions are possible but will take longer to get set up, so risk assets are not entirely out of the woods," they added.
Early on Wednesday, pro-Russian units took control of a naval base in Ukraine, in the clearest sign so far that Russian soldiers had begun to take control of Ukrainian military facilities across the Black Sea peninsula. Continuación...