European Shares to Open Lower; ECB in Focus

European stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday, with shares poised to lose ground for the seventh straight session as worries on the outlook for the global economy continue to rattle investors.

Share Price chart
Adam Gault | OJO Images | Getty Images
Share Price chart

Futures for for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were down 0.1-0.3 percent, while the FTSE was expected to open 1 point higher.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s bearish comments on the US economy continue to weigh, with analysts saying more selling is expected amid uncertainty.

London’s FTSE closed down 55.76 points on Wednesday to 5808.89, the DAX was down 43.02 points to 7060.23 and the pan-European FTSEurofirst index of top shares closed down 0.9 percent at 1,094.33.

In the US, stocks ended lower for the sixth-consecutive session on Wednesday following the publication of the Fed’s latest Beige Book, which highlighted signs of a slowdown in several regions.

In Asia, stocks slipped for a sixth straight day on Thursday as investors cut exposure to risky assets on signs the global economy is losing steam. Japanese stocks fell on concerns over the US economy; though hopes of buying the Bank of Japan and cheap valuations helped keep it above an important support level.

The euro stayed under pressure in Asia in Thursday, having been thwarted by solid resistance around $1.4700, but any signal of an imminent interest rate hike from the European Central Bank could affect the single currency. Weaknesses in the euro saw the dollar climb against a basket of major currencies. The dollar index rose to a high of 73.970, off a one-month low of 73.506 set on Tuesday.

The ECB Governing Council meets in Frankfurt on Thursday morning followed by an interest rate announcement at 12:45 London time, with a news conference at 13:30.

In the UK the Bank of England will also announce its interest rate decision at 12:00.

In Germany, the ECB and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will hold a joint conference in alternative approaches to modeling systemic risk and the German minister of finance Wolfgang Schaeuble will deliver a keynote speech on regulation and financial markets to a DIW and Bundesbank conference at 10:30.

French first quarter payroll data will be available from 6:30 London time.

In China, acting managing director of the IMF John Lipsky will commence a two-day visit to the country.