European stock markets are expected to edge lower at the open Wednesday, ahead of a much-anticipated Federal Reserve meeting which could see the start of the winding down of pandemic-era monetary stimulus in the world's largest economy.
The U.S. central bank concludes its two-day policy-setting meeting later Wednesday, and is widely expected to start reining in its $120 million monthly bond-buying program, put in place at the start of the pandemic.
The bigger variable is to what degree Chairman Jerome Powell changes his language on the outlook for inflation which is running at a 30-year high. Admissions that the current spike is set to last for longer than at first thought will likely be taken as a coded warning of earlier interest rate increases.
Back in Europe, German airline Lufthansa (DE:LHAG) posted a return to operating profit in the third quarter for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic as restrictions were lifted.
German online fashion retailer Zalando (DE:ZALG) reported mixed third-quarter results, as profit fell but sales rose 23% as consumers continued to shop online even after stores reopened from coronavirus lockdowns.
In Denmark, pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) reported healthy third-quarter earnings lifted by strong demand for its new obesity drug, while Vestas Wind Systems (OTC:VWDRY) cut its operating margin forecasts citing input cost pressures. The wind turbine maker's revenue beat expectations, however.
Swiss building supplies firm Geberit (SIX:GEBN) also said higher raw materials costs weighed on profit growth during the third quarter.
In economic news, the main release Wednesday will be the September unemployment rate for the Eurozone.
Crude prices fell Wednesday after an industry report pointed to a sharp rise in oil inventories in the U.S., the largest consumer in the world, and as pressure grows on OPEC+ to increase supply.
The American Petroleum Institute released data late Tuesday which showed U.S. crude stocks rose by 3.6 million barrels for the week ended Oct. 29, more than the 1.5 million barrels that had been expected. The U.S. Energy Information Administration releases its data at 10:30 AM ET.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group called OPEC+, meets on Thursday to discuss overall production levels.
OPEC+ is expected to confirm plans for small monthly increases even after U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, put the blame for the recent surge in oil and gas prices on the group’s refusal to produce more crude.
By 2 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.5% lower at $82.67 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 1.1% to $83.80.