International markets roundup

NEW YORK - The Australian market looks set to open higher after Wall Street edged upwards as investors looked beyond disappointing earnings from Ford and bought shares in Apple.

At 0645 AEST on Friday the share price index was up six points at 5,523.

LONDON - European markets settled lower with banking stocks in focus ahead of European bank stress test results expected to lay out the scale of the bad loan problems in Italy as well as strains on big German banks like Deutsche Bank.

Shares in Italy's third-largest lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which is saddled with a mountain of bad loans and accumulated losses, rose as much as than four per cent after news it was aiming for a 5 billion euros ($A7.38 billion) capital hike and that Italy's Atlante fund might be able to buy substantial amounts of bad loans.

The region's bond markets were swinging about too, with investors caught between the week's three big events.

With the stress tests looming, Italian government bond yields edged up ahead of new 10-year bond sales.

"It's probably not a coincidence that it's on the day before the stress test results," ING senior rates strategist Martin van Vliet said.

Italian benchmark bonds have also underperformed their Spanish peripheral peers since Britain's June 23 vote to leave the European Union. The extra yield investors demand to hold Italy's 10-year debt over Spain's hit its highest since February 2015 earlier this week at 13.8 basis points.

London's FTSE 100 fell 29.37 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 6,721.06 while Germany's DAX lost 44.62 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 10,274.93.

The broader market uncertainty and lack of interest rate rise expectations left spot gold hovering near a two-week high of $1,342.18 an ounce touched overnight.

The euro, which gained 0.7 per cent overnight, edged up to a nine-day high of $US1.1077.

HONG KONG - Asian stocks were mostly lower as Chinese equities deepened their losses, souring risk sentiment that had improved earlier after the Federal Reserve provided a positive assessment of the US economy.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.20 per cent, losing 44.65 points to 2,994.37.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which briefly climbed to its highest level since August 2015, clung to gains and was last up 0.1 per cent.

Shanghai closed flat scrapping just into a positive finish, up 2.32 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 2,994.32.

News that Chinese regulators are planning a tough clampdown on wealth management products to curb risks to the banking system had weighed heavily on Chinese stocks, with investors still wading through the details.

Japan's Nikkei declined more than one per cent, undermined by a stronger yen and nerves before the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision on Friday.

With the Fed meeting over, the spotlight fell on the BOJ, under mounting pressure to ease monetary policy and keep abreast of the Japanese government's large fiscal stimulus plan.

"The best-case scenario for the market is that the BOJ decides to increase government debt purchases without cutting interest rates further into negative territory," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

"But the BOJ can't save face if it does not cut rates into negative territory after it introduced the negative interest rate policy (in January), so we need to brace for such possibility, too."

WELLINGTON - The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 4.44 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7,306.34.

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