* IMF released updated US growth forecasts. US growth forecasts for 2014 were lowered from 2% to 1.7%. 2015 growth forecasts were kept at 3% - which would be the fastest expansion since 2005. The IMF believes the Fed can keep policy rates at zero for longer than mid-2015 if inflation stays subdued.
* European shares rose on Wednesday with Portugal's stock market outperforming after news that US institutional investors bought stakes in the country's troubled lender Banco Espirito Santo.
Lisbon's benchmark PSI-20 rose 1.7%. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose by 0.1%, with the German Dax up by 0.2%, while the UK FTSE flat. Australia's major miners were higher in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton up by 0.6% while Rio Tinto rose 1.6%.
* US sharemarkets were mixed on Wednesday with biotech stocks amongst the biggest gainers. The Nasdaq Biotech index jumped
1.9%. Tensions in Ukraine and the Gaza strip kept a lid on gains.
Traders waited on Facebook and AT&T which reports earnings after the bell. The Dow Jones index fell by 27 points or 0.2%. The S&P
500 index gained 0.2% while the Nasdaq rose by 18 points or 0.4%.
* US treasury prices edged higher for a third straight session on
Wednesday on continued safe-haven demand as global tensions continued to dominate sentiment. US 2 year yields fell 1pt to 0.47% while US 10 year yields fell 1pt to 2.46%.
* Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar following European and US sessions on Wednesday. The Euro rose from highs near US$1.3455 to around US$1.3475, before ending US trade near US$1.3460. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US94.30c to highs near US94.55c before ending the US session near its highs. And the Japanese yen traded between 101.30 yen per US dollar and JPY101.55, ending US trade near JPY101.45.
* World oil prices were mixed on Wednesday as fears of possible disruptions to global oil supplies from geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East continued to dominate trade. US crude stockpiles fell by a larger than expected 4 million barrels last week, while gasoline and distillate stocks rose. Brent crude rose by US76c or 0.7% to US$108.13 a barrel and the US Nymex price fell by US$1.30 a barrel or 1.2% to US$103.12 a barrel.
* Base metal prices were mixed on Wednesday. Aluminium led the declines down 1.4% while at the other end of the spectrum Tin was
0.5% higher. Gold prices eased on Wednesday with the Comex gold futures quote down by US$1.60 or 0.1% to US$1,304.70 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US$1.10 on Wednesday or 1.2% to US$94.30 a tonne.
Ahead: In Australia no economic data is released. Flash manufacturing figures are released across the globe starting off with
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