By Christopher Whittall

Global stocks mostly edged lower Thursday, as investors paused after recent gains.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.4% in early trade, on track for its second consecutive day of losses after entering bull market territory on Tuesday. U.S. futures pointed to small opening losses on Wall Street after the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose Wednesday to within 60 points of the 20,000 mark. Asian markets were mixed, with stocks in Hong Kong gaining while Japanese shares pulled back.

The dollar weakened, Treasury bonds gained and gold prices jumped, meanwhile, following the release of minutes Wednesday from the Federal Reserve's December meeting, where officials expressed considerable uncertainty about the potential impact of Donald Trump's policies on the economy.

Investors betting the U.S. central bank would raise interest rates at a faster clip than previously expected had helped push the buck to its highest level on Tuesday since 2002 and sent government bond yields sharply higher in recent weeks.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the buck against a basket of 16 other currencies, was down 0.5% Thursday following the release of the Fed minutes. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which falls as prices rise, was 2.414% Thursday, down from 2.452% at Wednesday's close.

Meanwhile, gold continued to gain as investors pared back expectations of a more aggressive Fed rate rising cycle. Prices were up 1.1% at $1,178 an ounce, on course for their highest close since late November. In other commodities, Brent crude oil was down 0.3% at $56.33 a barrel.

The Hang SengIndex was the standout performer in Asian markets, notching a gain of 1.4% after positive business surveys out of China and Hong Kong. Elsewhere in the region, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.4% after closing up 2.5% on Wednesday, its first trading day of the year.

Write to Christopher Whittall at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 05, 2017 04:04 ET (09:04 GMT)

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