Markets

European markets close higher amid Fed easing; Bank of England holds rates

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally up 0.6%, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
  • The Fed announced it would take down its benchmark overnight lending rate to a target range of 1.75% to 2% on Wednesday, but offered few indications that further reductions are ahead.
  • The Bank of England held interest rates steady on Thursday, as Brexit uncertainty continues to hang over the world's fifth-largest economy.

European stocks closed higher Thursday, after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates as expected but signaled a higher threshold to further policy easings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally up 0.6%, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Looking at individual stocks, Britain's IG Group surged to the top of the European benchmark after the company said it expects to return revenue growth in 2020. Shares of the online trading platform rose over 10% on the news.

Sticking with British stocks, Next tumbled toward the bottom of the index after reporting first-half results. The clothing chain posted a 2.7% rise in profit during the first six months of the year, but said the first few weeks of its fall season had been disappointing. Shares of the London-listed stock dipped 5%.

The Bank of England (BOE) held interest rates steady on Thursday, as Brexit uncertainty continues to hang over the world's fifth-largest economy.

With less than 45 days to go before the is set to leave the European Union, the BOE's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), led by Mark Carney, unanimously voted to hold interest rates at 0.75%. Sterling was little changed on the news.

Central banks

On Wall Street, stocks were higher amid gains in the tech sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 100 points while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes were also in positive territory.

The Fed announced Wednesday that it would take down its benchmark overnight lending rate to a target range of 1.75% to 2%, but offered few indications that further reductions are ahead — with members split on what to do next.

Easier monetary policy has generally supported equities, but a split vote from the U.S. central bank raised concern about predicting the future path for interest rates in the world's largest economy.

Central banks around the world have been loosening policy to counter the risk of low inflation and recession. On Thursday, the Bank of Japan held interest rates steady, as widely expected, but signaled it could ease next month.

U.S.-China trade talks are also in focus, with officials on either side set to meeting in Washington later in the day. The two-day negotiations are aimed at preparing for high-level talks in early October, which will determine whether Washington and Beijing can progress toward a deal and avoid higher tariffs.

— Reuters contributed to this report.