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European stocks mixed; ECB meeting in full focus - European stock markets traded in a mixed fashion Thursday, with the outperforming as investors awaited news from a crucial European Central Bank policy-setting meeting.

At 03:25 ET (07:25 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.2% lower and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.2%, whilethe FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.3%.

ECB rate decision on knife’s edge

The ECB meets later in the session, with policymakers having to decide whether to raise its key interest rate to a record level, or pause its lengthy rate-hiking cycle as the eurozone’s economy deteriorates.

The central bank has raised rates at each of its past nine meetings and another increase of 25 basis points would lift the key deposit rate to 4%, the highest level since the euro was launched in 1999.

ECB President Christine Lagarde hinted at a pause this month at her press conference following the last meeting in late July, but Reuters reported on Tuesday that the central bank was set to raise its forecast for inflation next year to more than 3%, seemingly increasing the chances of a hike.

“We expect a very heated debate with a close outcome. While there are good arguments to justify both a pause and another rate hike, we are sticking to our view that the ECB will hike rates one final time,” said analysts at ING, in a note.

U.S. inflation data to digest

The Federal Reserve, the ECB’s U.S. peer, meets next week, and the policymakers will likely have a similarly difficult decision to make following the release of the latest consumer inflation data on Wednesday.

The numbers showed U.S. consumer prices increased by the most in 14 months in August as the cost of gasoline rose, but the annual rise in underlying inflation was the smallest in nearly two years.

"The Fed will still keep rates on hold in September, but it means officials will almost certainly keep one final hike in their official forecasts, even though we don’t think they will carry through with it," analysts at ING added.

There’s more U.S. inflation data to digest later Thursday, in the form of August producer prices, while retail sales are expected to show a slowdown in growth rates as consumers rein in spending.

Arm set to start trading after float

In the corporate sector, Arm Holdings, the British chip design company founded in 1990, will begin trading in New York later in the session for the first time after being taken private by SoftBank (TYO:9984) in 2016.

Its $51-a-share float was oversubscribed by 12 times, resulting in a $54.5 billion valuation, suggesting it should receive a positive reaction at the start of trading.

Crude remains around 10-month highs

Oil prices rose Thursday as supplies are set to stay tight this year, while confidence about the demand outlook remains strong even as U.S. crude stockpiles rise.

The International Energy Agency largely stuck by its estimates for demand growth this year and next in its monthly report, released Wednesday, joining the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in expecting oil markets to tighten further this year.

With Saudi Arabia and Russia extending their oil output cuts to the end of 2023, both oil benchmarks touched 10-month highs on Wednesday as traders looked past U.S. crude inventories rising by 4 million barrels last week, confounding analysts' expectations for a drop of around 2 million barrels.

By 03:25 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.7% higher at $89.12 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.6% to $92.44.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,927.85/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0736.

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