Europe Markets

European markets close lower as investors wait to hear from Fed

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.2% lower, with most sectors and major bourses in the red.
  • Global markets on Wednesday will be focused on the Fed's latest policy meeting.
  • Just Eat Takeaway plunged 13% after confirming it was in talks to merge with U.S. rival Grubhub.

European stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday as investors await the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting and economic forecasts.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed 0.2% lower, with the majority of sectors and major bourses in the red. Travel and leisure shares were the worst performers, down over 2%.

Market focus is attuned to the Fed's latest policy meeting. On Wall Street, stock markets were mostly lower, with investors awaiting clarity on the state of the U.S. economy.

The central bank's two-day meeting concludes Wednesday with the release of a policy statement and the quarterly summary of economic projections, then Chairman Jerome Powell's news conference at 2:30 pm EST. 

The Fed is not expected to make any major policy changes, with its benchmark rate near zero and the asset purchasing programs continuing. However, investors will be watching for hints on how long its current policy will remain in place, and for its forecast for the economy and interest rates, its first since late last year.

In Europe, Inditex on Wednesday morning reported a net income loss of 409 million euros between February and April, including a 308 million euro provision for its store optimization program. The world's largest fashion group said it had been "materially" impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but online sales rose 50% across the period.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is on track to cause the worst peace time recession in 100 years, and cautioned that a second wave of infections could cause the global economy to contract by 7.6% in 2020.

In terms of individual share price action, Netherlands-based food delivery firm Just Eat Takeaway plunged 13% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after confirming it was in advanced talks to merge with U.S. rival Grubhub. It comes after CNBC reported Uber was likely to pull out of deal talks with Grubhub due to antitrust concerns.

At the opposite end of the blue chip index, Sweden's SEB climbed almost 6%. It comes after the country's financial regulator said it would conclude an investigation into the bank's management and controls of anti-money laundering measures in the Baltics.