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Europe Markets to Open Lower, Spooked by Bernanke

European stocks were expected to open lower on Thursday after closing lower on Wednesday ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting that ended with Chairman Ben Bernanke announcing an updated growth forecast of 2.7 to 2.9 percent this year, down from April’s estimate of 3.1 to 3.3 percent.

Close-up of a pen on stock price chart
Close-up of a pen on stock price chart

The FTSE is expected to open 30 points lower at 5743, Germany’s DAX is predicted to be down 32 points to 7246 and the CAC 40 in Paris is called 23 points lower at 3848.

London’s FTSE closed down 2.32 points on Wednesday 5772.99, the DAX was down 7.32 points to 7278.19 and France’s CAC 40 was also down 5.70 points to 3871.37.

All of the main European indexes were down for two of the past three trading days.

Shares in consumer electronics producer Philips saw heavy selling, after the firm issued a profit warning.

Asian stocks also traded lower on Thursday amid concerns over US growth, with investors taking Ben Bernanke’s assessment as a cue to sell stocks after a four-day rally.

In the US stocks fell in the final hour of trading to close lower Wednesday as the Fed chairman gave no indication of further stimulus plans.

The euro fell to $1.4305 on Thursday, well off Wednesday’s high near $1.4441, while UK sterling hit three month lows in Asia after the Bank of England raised the prospect of further quantitative easing, in contrast to the Federal Reserve.

Sterling fell to $1.6047, lows not seen since April 1 and it also lost ground against the euro, which rose to a two-week high of 89.53 pence.

EU heads of state will attend a working dinner on Thursday, followed by a press conference ahead of a European Council Meeting on Friday where economic policy, migration and Croatia’s accession to the EU are expected to be on the agenda.

A European parliament plenary session will also take place with MEPs voting on making Bank of Italy head Mario Draghi the successor to Jean Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank.

The IMF board will meet with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde on Thursday in Washington D.C.

Her rival candidate for the Managing Director post, Agustin Carstens met with the board on Tuesday.

The selection process is expected to be completed by June 30 with board members meeting June 28 to discuss the two candidates ahead of voting.

In London, retailer HMV will hold its general meeting where shareholders are due to vote on the proposed disposal of the Waterstone’s bookstore business for £53 million.

Economic releases on Thursday include French flash PMI for June at 8:00 London time, followed by Germany at 8:30 and the euro zone at 9:00.

In the US, jobless claims will be available from 1:30 pm London time.

Contact Europe: Economy

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