A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Asian stock markets fell for a third day Wednesday as caution spread ahead of corporate earnings and after record highs on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Asian stock markets fell for a third day Wednesday as caution spread ahead of corporate earnings and after record highs on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
LONDON — Stock markets in Europe steadied Wednesday as Wall Street opened solidly following positive earnings news from aluminum company Alcoa.
The company reported better than expected results in an after-hours statement Tuesday. Alcoa traditionally kicks off the quarterly reporting season and its results helped soothe some concerns in the markets.
U.S. corporate earnings could be the biggest driver in markets over the coming weeks as investors look for signs that the strengthening U.S. economy has translated into higher sales and profits.
"With Alcoa kicking things off in style there is now going to be added pressure on companies to perform and back up the recent equity gains with strong corporate performances," said James Hughes, chief market analyst at Alpari.
Alcoa's results helped steady sentiment somewhat in the Europe and the U.S. following sizeable losses the previous day.
In Europe, France's CAC-40 rose 0.4 percent to close at 4,359.84 while Germany's DAX rose the same rate to 9,808.20. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.3 percent at 6,718.04.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.2 percent at 16,938.41 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 1,968.28.
The focus later will center on the release of the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting. After that meeting wrapped up, the Fed made clear that it sees no need to raise short-term interest rates from record lows anytime soon.
"While we don't expect too many surprises from them, given recent commentary from some Fed officials the market could well be underestimating the timing of a rise in interest rates in the U.S.," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
Earlier, Asian markets were mostly marked down as investors across the region responded to the previous day's rout across Europe and the U.S.
Japan's Nikkei 225 recouped some of its losses from earlier in the day to close down 0.1 percent at 15,302.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.6 percent to 23,176.07.
Seoul's Kospi dropped 0.3 percent to 2,000.50 and China's Shanghai Composite fell 1.2 percent to 2,038.61. Markets in Australia and Southeast Asia also fell.