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European Stocks Futures Higher; Fed Meeting Set to Conclude

European stock markets are expected to open higher Wednesday, helped by an easing of tensions surrounding embattled Chinese property group Evergrande , ahead of a key Federal Reserve meeting.

At 2:05 AM ET (0605 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.6% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.4% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.6%.

Asian stocks have been battered of late, dragging their European equivalents lower, on concerns that China Evergrande Group (HK:3333), the country’s second largest property developer, will default on a debt pile that accounts for over 10% of all Asian high-yield debt.

Some of these worries were lifted Wednesday after China Evergrande Group's main unit, Hengda Real Estate Group, said it would make a bond interest payment on Thursday after private negotiations with bondholders.

This news doesn’t end the speculation of default, with Evergrande having an $83.5 million interest payment due on Thursday and a second $47.5 million interest payment due next week, but it boosted the market’s confidence of avoiding widespread market disorder.

The day’s main highlight will be the conclusion of the latest Federal Reserve policy-setting meeting, with investors looking to see whether the U.S. central bank clears the way for reductions to its monthly asset purchases later this year.

Back in Europe, the economic data highlight will be the flash consumer confidence release for the Eurozone in September, which is expected to show a small fall.

In corporate news, UBS (SIX:UBSG) and HSBC (LON:HSBA) will be in the spotlight after data from Morningstar showed these investment banks, along with fund giant BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), were among the largest buyers of Evergrande debt.

Crude prices pushed higher Wednesday as industry data pointed to a sharp drop in U.S. oil stocks last week in the wake of the two recent hurricanes impacting the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude stockpiles fell just over 6 million barrels last week, a much bigger decline than the 2.4 million barrel drop expected.

That would be a seventh straight weekly decrease if data from the Energy Information Administration later Wednesday confirms it, and indicative of lingering supply disruptions.

By 2:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.5% higher at $71.53 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.3% to $75.35.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,779.55/oz, while EUR/USD edged lower to 1.1721.

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