European shares mixed ahead of key Fed decision

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European shares mixed ahead of key Fed decision
Credit: © Reuters.

By Scott Kanowsky -- European equities were mixed on Wednesday but widely held near the flatline, as investors awaited the highly anticipated release of the Federal Reserve's latest interest rate decision later in the day.

At 04:05 ET (09:05 GMT), the regional Stoxx 600 inched up 0.24%, the DAX index in Germany traded 0.10% lower, the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose by 0.08%, and the CAC 40 in France was unchanged.

Attention in the markets is focusing on the Fed . Policymakers at the U.S. central bank are widely tipped to raise borrowing costs by 25 basis points, which would mark a slowing in its recent policy tightening cycle.

Comments from Fed chair Jerome Powell regarding the future rate path will also be closely watched, as recent U.S. economic data suggests that there could still be further room to hike rates.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will step into the spotlight with rate announcements of their own. Both are seen increasing rates by 50 basis points.

Analysts at ING noted that traders will likely use a raft of economic data points published this week to frame their own opinions on the broader outlook, rather than rely heavily on pieces of commentary from central bankers.

"One of the reasons is that central banks are purposefully behind the curve. Their past mistake in anticipating the inflation surge means they’re unlikely to acknowledge it is going back to target until they have a much higher degree of confidence than now," ING

The preliminary Eurozone consumer price index for January, which is due out this morning, is expected to provide clues about the road ahead for inflation in the currency area. Optimism has been growing that price growth in the region has peaked.

On Tuesday, the European Union's statistics agency showed that the Eurozone unexpectedly eked out quarterly growth of 0.1% in the final three months of 2022. Economists had predicted that it would contract by 0.1% instead. On an annual basis , growth in the currency area during the period was 1.9%.

In corporate news, shares in Vodafone Group PLC (LON: VOD ) dropped after the telecoms firm posted a slowdown in third quarter revenue growth that stemmed from weak performance in key European markets. Vodafone's interim chief executive pledged to "do more" to improve results.

Drugmaker GSK (LON: GSK ) warned that slipping demand for COVID-related products will hit sales growth in 2023 by about 9%, reflecting a move by governments away from pandemic-era procurement programs. But fourth quarter profit beat estimates, thanks to demand for its shingles vaccines, helping shares move up slightly.

But pharmaceutical peer Novartis (SIX: NOVN ) saw its shares fall. Quarterly sales were just below expectations due to weakness in demand for its psoriasis treatment Cosentyx.

Elsewhere, U.S. crude futures were 0.77% higher at $79.48 a barrel by 04:05 ET, while the Brent contract gained 0.56% to $85.94 per barrel.

Additionally, gold futures dipped by 0.24% to $1,940.65/oz, while EUR/USD was up by 0.18% at 1.0882.

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