Top Stories
Top Stories
Europe Markets

European stocks close higher as investors await Fed decision

Key Points
  • The Fed is widely expected to cut interest rates by a quarter point, in what would be the central bank's first rate cut in over a decade.
  • U.S. and Chinese officials meet in Shanghai for the first time since a truce was agreed between the two countries back in May.
  • Earnings remains in focus as a slew of major European corporates report results Wednesday.

European stocks closed higher Wednesday as investors awaited an interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 climbed 0.2%, with the majority of sectors and major bourses in positive territory. The FTSE 100 in London was the outlier in Europe, slipping 0.6% as the pound moved away from recent lows.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The Fed is widely expected to cut interest rates by a quarter point — which would be the central bank's first rate cut in over a decade — and the anticipation of monetary easing has supported risk asset prices worldwide.

Trade is also on investors' minds, after U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to threaten "no deal at all" with China if it seeks to wait out his first term to finalize any trade deal.

U.S. negotiators met with Chinese representatives in Shanghai for the first time since a truce was agreed between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in May.

The two sides discussed China increasing its purchases of American agricultural goods, according to Chinese state-run media, as well as the U.S. creating "favorable conditions" for China. The next round of high-level talks will take place in the U.S. in September.

On the data front, European Union statistics released Wednesday showed that euro zone economic growth halved in the period from April to June and inflation slowed sharply in July, despite unemployment falling to its lowest in 11 years.

On Wall Street, stocks were little changed ahead of the Fed decision. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was barely above the flatline while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were slightly higher.

Earnings in focus

Earnings remain in focus as a slew of major European corporates reported results Wednesday. Credit Suisse reported a net income of 937 million Swiss Francs ($945 million) for the second-quarter of this year, beating expectations. The bank's shares climbed more than 2%.

BNP Paribas posted a net profit for the quarter of 2.47 billion euros ($2.76 billion), also beating expectations on the back of strong growth in its corporate and investment banking unit. Shares of France's largest bank climbed almost 2%.

Belgian materials and recycling group Umicore and British retailer Next saw their shares climb by around 9% and 8% respectively following strong earnings announcements.

British property developer Hammerson fell almost 11% to the bottom of the European blue chip index in afternoon trade after reporting a £319.8 million loss for the first half of 2019.

Air France KLM shares traded more than 8% higher after its second-quarter earnings and the announcement that members of its pilots' union had voted in favor of the development of a new low cost airline, Transavia France.