FTSE 100 Closes Off Highs on US Data

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed off its session highs on Wednesday, after worse-than-expected employment data was released in the U.S.

(Read More: Europe Marks May Day With Rallies Against Austerity)


The FTSE 100 unofficially closed 0.2 percent higher at 6,441 points in thin trade, while most other European bourses were shut for May Day public holidays. Wednesday marked the FTSE's 10th consecutive day of gains.

US Data Disappoints Again

ADP employment data from the U.S. showed that private companies created just 119,000 new job posts in April, well below expectations.

(Read More: Spring Slowdown Paints Ugly Picture for Jobs: ADP)

Markets were also focused on the outcome of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting on Wednesday. At its last meeting in March, the U.S. central bank said it would keep its main interest rate at a record low of between zero and 0.25 percent until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent.

The Fed is not expected to change its monetary policy stance when it releases a post-meeting statement after 7 p.m. London time on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank's meeting this week continues to dominate the agenda. Data for the euro zone showed inflation eased to 1.2 percent in April, a three year-low, piquing hopes that the central bank will ease monetary policy when it meets on Thursday.

In a poll by Reuters, 43 out of 76 economists said they expected the ECB to cut rates by 25 basis points.

(Poll: Do You Think ECB Should Cut Rates?)

"The prospect of an interest rate cut has increased substantially with the inflation data we saw yesterday," Tom Rogers, a senior economic advisor at Ernst & Young told CNBC on Wednesday.

"The ECB council and Mario Draghi have been clear about their mandate being maintaining price stability…[but] now there's a much clearer mandate for the ECB to do something about growth and not worry about the consequences for prices," Rogers said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly included opening calls for the French CAC 40 and the German DAX for the May public holiday.