European stocks close higher; DAX up 1% as German inflation eases

This is CNBC's live blog covering European markets.

European stocks closed higher on Wednesday, as regional markets regained positive momentum and investors assessed comments from U.S. Federal Reserve board members.

The regional Stoxx 600  index was up 0.43% at the close as autos stocks climbed 2.3%.

Germany's blue chip DAX index maintained gains of more than 1%, after figures released in the afternoon showed German inflation on an EU-harmonized basis slowed to 2.3% in November, significantly more than the 2.6% forecast in a Reuters poll. The DAX is at its highest level since the start of August, according to LSEG figures.

European markets

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said he was growing more confident that policy was in a place now to bring inflation back under control. However, he maintained that inflation was still too high. Waller also said the Fed might start lowering rates if inflation continues to ease over the next three to five months.

On Wall Street, stocks cut earlier gains on Wednesday to trade near the flat line, but the major averages are still on track for a sizeable jump in November. Asia-Pacific markets largely fell overnight, led by losses in Hong Kong.

German inflation cools to 2.3% in November

German inflation rose by 2.3% on an annual basis in November, the lowest level since June 2021, the federal statistics office said Wednesday. This figure is harmonized to compare with other European Union countries.

Analysts previously polled by Reuters were expecting the consumer price index to ease to 2.6%.

Core inflation, which excludes traditionally more volatile food and energy prices, is set to come in at 3.8% for the month, according to the statistics office.

The German DAX reached its highest level since early August according to LSEG data as investors considered the path ahead for the economy amid easing inflation.

— Sophie Kiderlin

U.S. GDP rises at 5.2% pace in Q3, more than expected

Gross domestic product grew at an even stronger than expected pace in the third quarter, the Commerce Department announced Wednesday.

GDP, a measure of all goods and services produced during the July-through-September period, accelerated at 5.2% annualized pace, better than the 5% Dow Jones forecast and above the initial estimate of 4.9%. This was the second of three readings on the key economic number.

The upgrade came mostly from revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and government spending, while consumer expenditures were revised lower.

–Jeff Cox

Spain's 12-month inflation drops to 3.2% in November

Inflation fell to 3.2% in Spain on an annual basis in November, according to preliminary data from the country's National Statistics Institute published Wednesday.

The consumer price index reading had come in at 3.5% on an annual basis in October. The November figure also came in below the 3.7% expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

Spain's CPI nevertheless remains above the 2% annual inflation target set out by the European Central Bank.

Core inflation, which excludes traditionally more volatile food and energy prices, came in at 4.5% this November, compared to the previous year.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Dollar weakness continues on Fed cut expectations

Sterling traded higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, as the greenback continues to weaken as a result of rising expectations of a Federal Reserve rate cut in the first half of 2024.

The British pound was up 0.06% at $1.27 at 7:15 a.m. London time.

The pound, along with the euro, yen, Australian dollar, yuan and Swiss franc, all marked fresh multi-month highs against the U.S. dollar during early trade, according to Reuters data.

The ICE dollar index, a measurement of the greenback against a basket of currencies, has fallen sharply this month.

Investors are near-certain the Fed will hold rates at its next two meetings, while markets have now priced in a 43% probability of a cut in March and a more than a 50% probability of a trim in May, according to the CME's FedWatch Tool.

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U.S. dollar index

— Jenni Reid

CNBC Pro: Citi is so bullish on this biotech stock it gives it 800% potential upside

Citi is so bullish on one biotech stock that it has given the company a target price that represents around 800% upside.

Citi isn't alone in its bullishness on the company. According to FactSet, analysts covering the stock give it average price target upside of 385% and a buy rating of 88%.

BMO Capital Markets in a Nov. 16 note said it expects biotech stocks to outperform in the next six to 12 months.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

CNBC Pro: With geopolitical tensions mouting, Bernstein expects 3 defense stocks to soar 20%

Mounting geopolitical threats in the Asia Pacific region have beefed up the defense budget of countries around the world — and AllianceBernstein has named its overweight-rated stocks to play the theme.

"The epicenter of global defense and security has been moving toward Asia Pacific in recent years, prompting [the] U.S. and major European nations to gradually shift their security focus eastward," analysts at the global asset management firm wrote in a Nov. 27 note to investors.

"The rising geopolitical threats in APAC has been a driver of military spending for the Western nations. In addition, APAC countries have become more important for their own military expenditures, which present some opportunities for Western defense contractors through either exports or partnerships."

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Amala Balakrishner

European markets: Here are the opening calls

European markets are set to open higher Thursday.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 23 points higher at 7,665, Germany's DAX up 96 points at 17,205, France's CAC 55 points higher at 7,863 and Italy's FTSE MIB up 222 points at 32,289, according to data from IG. 

Earnings are due from Nestle, Zurich Insurance, Iberdrola, Telefonica, Lloyds Banking Group, Rolls-Royce, WPP, Anglo American and Hargreaves Lansdown. Preliminary services and manufacturing purchasing managers' index data from the euro zone in February is due Thursday.

— Holly Ellyatt