European markets close higher ahead of Fed decision

  • The Federal Reserve will conclude its September monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, with analysts expecting an announcement of a quarter point rate hike.
  • Disney and Fox confirmed they would sell their Sky shares to Comcast after losing the war to control the British broadcaster.
  • President Trump accused China of interfering in the U.S. congressional elections, due to take place on November 6.

European stocks moved mildly higher on Wednesday, as investors sat tight ahead of an upcoming Federal Reserve decision.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally 0.29 percent higher at the end of the day with the different sectors moving in opposite directions. Basic resources was the biggest losing sector of the day, shedding 1 percent in value. That trade marked a pullback from Tuesday's strong gains by mining stocks.

The FTSE 100 in London ended Wednesday's session almost flat, up by only 0.04 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, Bouygues rose 2.66 percent after J.P. Morgan upgraded the stock to overweight from neutral and raised its price target to 46 euros ($54) from 42 euros.

German carmaker Daimler was initially among the biggest losers but pushed higher over the course of the session to finish higher by 0.26 percent. The company said on Wednesday that it would appoint its first ever non-German boss, with current CEO Dieter Zetsche set to hand the reigns over to Swede Ola Kaellenius in 2019.

And Plane-maker Airbus saw shares move higher by 3.24 percent on Wednesday. European regulators have granted a crucial certification to its A330-900 plane. Entry into service for the wide-body jet remains planned for 2018.

Comcast updated markets players early on Wednesday, announcing that it has increased its stake in Sky to 36.95 percent. This is after winning a bidding war over the U.K. broadcaster.

Walt Disney and 21st Century Fox then confirmed they are to sell their shares in U.K. broadcaster Sky to Comcast, putting the U.S. cable operator on course to take full control of the media group.

In other corporate news, European Union executive body the European Commission said on Wednesday that an antitrust decision on the proposed merger between German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp and Indian rival Tata Steel will be made by October 30.

Fed decision in focus

Market players are waiting for news from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The central bank will conclude the second and final day of its September monetary policy meeting, with analysts expecting an announcement of a quarter point rate hike at 2 p.m. ET.

In the United States, stocks have opened for trade slightly higher ahead of the anticipated rate rise by the Fed.

Meanwhile, Brexit continues to keep European markets busy. On Tuesday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said that it wouldn't be in the national interest to put forward another general election during exit negotiations. This comes as May faces more and more pressure over the future of divorce negotiations between the EU and the U.K.

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And investors continue to monitor politics in Italy, as worries mount over the new coalition government's upcoming budget. Rome will present its first budget and economic targets on Thursday, numbers which will set the stage for the government's first budget in 2019.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio — leader of the Italian populist Five Star Movement — said Tuesday he would refuse to support a budget unless it included its flagship universal basic income policy. If the government doesn't stick to a deficit target below 2 percent, it could add to friction with the EU.