European stocks edged up yesterday while Wall Street dipped slightly as investors eyed a two-day US Federal Reserve meeting for hints on possible interest rates hikes.
Just ahead of Deutsche Boerse shareholders backing its merger with the London Stock Exchange, the FTSE 100 closed 0.2% higher.
Dealers are also awaiting today’s British economic growth data and a Bank of England interest rate call next week.
Frankfurt stocks meanwhile gained 0.5%, while Paris cautiously regained ground to close 0.15% higher.
“The market is in a waiting mode ahead of the Fed,” said Xavier de Villepion, equity salesman at HPC in Paris. “There is also a raft of company results, and those published so far have been of high quality overall.”
Shares in French telecommunications group Orange fell by 3.7% after reporting first-half net profit nearly tripled.
The US central bank, which opened its two-day meeting yesterday, is not expected to make any big rates announcement.
However, its accompanying statement will be pored over for clues about policy following a run of strong data that have fanned talk of a rate hike.
Traders also are eyeing the first estimate of British second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), before the BoE decision due on August 4.
The BoE – which this month decided to keep its rates fixed at 0.50% where they have stood since March 2009 – has already signalled a possible cut in response to Brexit.
“The markets have settled into a jittery kind of dullness,” noted Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell, in reference to yesterday’s trade.
“I think it’s just pre-Fed jitters, pre-UK GDP jitters, pre-BoE next week jitters,” he told AFP.
The pound dipped after BoE policymaker Martin Weale said that recent poor data has persuaded him to vote in favour of stimulus.
US stocks reversed direction, as investors also awaited much-anticipated earnings from Apple, the largest company by market capitalisation, which reported its first decline in sales in 13 years in its April earnings release.
Meanwhile, Europe’s energy sector faced fresh selling pressure yesterday as oil prices struck new three-month lows on supply glut concerns.
BP’s share price fell 1.3%, hit also by disappointing second-quarter results.
Commodities analysts at Capital Economics said that after “a good few months” for prices, the coming months may be “much tougher”.
“In particular, commodities are vulnerable to a resumption of Fed tightening and renewed strength in the US dollar.
“The next leg up in oil prices may have to wait, although we continue to expect Brent and WTI to recover further (to $60pb) in 2017,” they wrote in a note for investors.
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