European stocks and U.S. stocks finished higher Wednesday, scoring a fillip from a surge in crude-oil futures and energy stocks, ahead of the European Central Bank's highly anticipated policy decision Thursday. On Thursday, the ECB is widely expected to push its deposit rate further into negative territory, but analysts are also betting on an expansion of the ECB's aggressive quantitative-easing program as well as another round of cheap loans to banks. The moves could put pressure on Treasurys and global currencies.
Asian markets traded mixed as traders digested another round of Chinese economic data and interest rate decisions from central banks in New Zealand and South Korea. China's consumer price index rose 2.3% in February from a year earlier, quicker than a 1.8% year-over-year increase in January, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed, with rising food prices among the main factors pushing up the index. The rise in the key inflation gauge exceeded a median 1.9% gain forecast by 17 economists in a survey by The Wall Street Journal.
Based on MarketWatch materials