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Europe shares up, Asia stocks fall on omicron, Fed, Ukraine

The U.S. market rallied Monday, but it's unclear if there is another downward trend on its way.

TOKYO, Japan — European stocks opened higher Tuesday after a day of steep losses in Asia as markets waited to hear from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell after a two-day policy meeting that ends Wednesday.

The possibility of conflict between Russia and Ukraine and concern over coronavirus outbreaks also were adding to uncertainties.

France's CAC 40 edged up 1.1% to 6,861.14 in early trading, while Germany's DAX added 0.6% to 15,100.95. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5% to 7,334.99. The future of the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1.1% lower, while the S&P 500 future fell 1.6%.

The Fed meeting will provide an update on policymakers' latest thinking on the economy and interest rates.

Some economists worry the Fed is moving too slowly in tamping down inflation by raising rates that have been kept low for nearly two years to support markets and economies slammed by the pandemic.

Others fret that the Fed may act too aggressively and could risk causing a recession without managing to cool inflation.

Meanwhile, tensions have soared between Russia and the West over fears that Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine, with NATO outlining potential troop and ship deployments.

The Pentagon ordered 8,500 troops on higher alert to potentially deploy to Europe as part of a NATO “response force” to a military move on Ukraine. President Joe Biden has consulted with key European leaders, underscoring U.S. solidarity with allies there.

Asian shares declined as Japan made official a government plan to expand areas where pandemic restrictions are advised to help curb the spread of COVID-19. That will again put a damper on business activity and travel.

Toyota Motor Corp. shares fell nearly 2% after Japan’s top automaker said further adjustments to its production in Japan were needed because of a shortfall in computer chips from disruptions related to COVID-19 restrictions and infections. Toyota has apologized for keeping customers waiting for its products.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 1.7% to finish at 27,131.34. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 2.5% to 6,961.60. South Korea’s Kospi lost 2.6% to 2,720.39. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.7% to 24,243.61, while the Shanghai Composite dipped 2.6% to 3,433.06.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 48 cents to $83.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It tumbled $1.83 to $85.31 on Monday.

Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oil, rose 59 cents to $86.86 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 113.84 Japanese yen from 113.96 yen. The euro cost $1.1311, down from $1.1326.

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