By Scott Kanowsky
Investing.com -- European banks climbed on Wednesday, advancing for a third straight day, as investors looked ahead to a crucial Federal Reserve interest rate decision and fears eased over a possible financial industry crisis following the takeover of Credit Suisse (SIX: CSGN ) by UBS (SIX: UBSG ).
The Europe Stoxx Banks index, which tracks the performance of several large European and U.K. lenders, moved higher by 2% as of 06:05 ET (10:05 GMT), making it the best-performing sector in the region. Barclays PLC (LON: BARC ) and NatWest Group PLC (LON: NWG ) in the U.K. were among the biggest gainers, while Germany's Commerzbank AG O.N. (ETR: CBKG ) and UniCredit SpA (BIT: CRDI ) in Italy both traded in the green.
Meanwhile, Spanish banking giant Banco Santander (BME: SAN ) was boosted by an upgraded rating from analysts at BNP Paribas Exane. Domestic peers BBVA (BME: BBVA ) and Banco de Sabadell SA (BME: SABE ) were also higher.
Focus is turning to the Fed's latest rate decision, which is due out after the close of European markets. Most economists are forecasting a quarter-point rate hike, although others believe the U.S. central bank may pause its recent hiking in borrowing costs due to the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding the banking industry.
Separately, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said today that the ECB will continue to take a "robust" approach to fighting inflation, but will also be ready to provide aid to financial markets should threats emerge.
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