Markets

European stocks close higher as investors await Fed decision and US-China trade news

Key Points
  • The Fed's final interest rate decision of the year is due later in the day stateside, with the central bank widely expected to hold rates steady.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Washington plans to delay additional 15% tariffs on around $160 billion in Chinese exports to the U.S. slated for Sunday.
  • A closely-watched final YouGov poll ahead of Thursday's U.K. election showed the race has tightened considerably in recent weeks, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party now less certain of an outright majority.

European stocks traded cautiously Wednesday as investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate decision and monitor developments ahead of the weekend's U.S.-China trade tariff deadline.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 moved slightly higher in afternoon trade to close provisionally 0.22% higher, with utilities and basic resources leading gains.

The Fed's final interest rate decision of the year is due later in the day stateside, with the central bank widely expected to hold rates steady.U.S. stocks rose slightly on Wednesday.

Meanwhile traders are also keeping a keen eye on discussions between the U.S. and China ahead of Sunday's planned implementation of an additional 15% tariffs on around $160 billion in Chinese exports to the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Washington plans to delay the tariffs as the two sides negotiate a potential "phase one" trade agreement.

A closely-watched final YouGov poll ahead of Thursday's U.K. election showed the race has tightened considerably in recent weeks, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party now less certain to win an outright majority of seats in Parliament.

Sterling slipped against the dollar in reaction to the news, with markets previously pricing in a comfortable Johnson victory. A later, but much smaller poll, gave the Conservatives a strong majority — helping sterling to recover to around $1.3154 around the close of European trade.

In an update before the bell on Wednesday, Credit Suisse said it expects a return on tangible equity (ROTE) above 8% in 2019, revised down from its previous target of 10-11%, with the Swiss lender also cutting its profitability ambitions for 2020. Shares of the Swiss lender traded 0.2% lower in afternoon deals.

Stocks on the move

Tullow Oil shares continued to recover after Monday's 70% plunge, climbing 14.4% by the close, while Zara owner Inditex added 5.2% after reporting strong profit growth.

Shares of JD Sports tumbled 9.5% after its top shareholder Pentland announced that it had cut its stake in the British sporting goods giant while retaining its position as majority shareholder.