Europe Markets

Cautious Europe closes mixed as Fed decision looms

Cautious Europe closes mixed as Fed decision looms

European equities closed mixed, as investors remained on edge ahead of a highly-anticipated U.S. Federal Reserve decision on interest rates later on Thursday.

The pan-European STOXX 600 failed to hold onto gains, ending around 0.1 percent lower, in what had been a see-saw day for markets.

London's FTSE 100 index slipped, closing 0.7 percent lower, while the German DAX managed to eke out gains, ending roughly flat. The French CAC finished just 0.2 percent higher.

Global markets are poised for the latest policy announcement from the Fed, which concludes a two-day meeting later on Thursday.

The Fed's monetary policy decision has been the most closely anticipated for some time, with investors and economists divided over whether the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee will lift rates for the first time in nine years.

Consequently, U.S. stocks traded in a tight range Thursday as the European trading session ended.

Most Asian stocks advanced on Thursday, helped by a positive lead from Wall Street on Wednesday. This helped Japan's Nikkei 225 index offset disappointing trade data released before the open. Chinese stocks however, failed to hold gains, closing in the red.

Global crude prices renewed their fall, with Brent crude prices down more than 2 percent at $48.58 and WTI crude fell 1 percent at $46.65 ahead of the Fed rate decision.

Oil prices jumped nearly 6 percent on Wednesday on a range of factors, including reports that U.S. crude inventories fell in the most recent week.

Stocks to watch

Dutch telecoms giant Altice is to buy cable TV operator Cablevision Systems for $17.7 billion, the two companies confirmed on Thursday.

Altice shares surged over 11 percent after the news but pared gains sharply, ending 0.7 percent higher. This deal comes a day after SABMiller confirmed that Belgian brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev had informed the U.K.-listed firm that it intends to acquire it.

Spanish banks received a boost after they received positive comments from investment banks.

HSBC raised its recommendation for Banco de Sabadell to "buy" from "hold," sending shares in the Spanish lender up 6.3 percent. This lifted shares up to the top of the STOXX 600, up 9.2 percent. Caixabank and Banco Popular both finished sharply higher too.

FOMC votes? Hawks vs. doves

British grocery delivery service Ocado meanwhile soared 8.4 percent following strong results this week. On Thursday, Deutsche Bank raised its recommendation on the stock from "sell" to "hold".

Valve-control systems maker Rotork warned of lower full-year results which resulted in shares tanking almost 11 percent.

On the data front, Greece's jobless rate fell to 24.6 percent in the second quarter from 26.6 percent in the first three months of the year, official statistics showed. And in the U.K., August retail sales nudged up 0.2 percent on the previous month.