By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets traded higher Thursday, building on the previous session’s gains as investors await the release of the minutes from the latest meeting of the European Central Bank.
Equity investors have been trying this week to put behind them the brutal sell-off of the first half of the year, while nervously keeping a close eye on central bank actions as they try to assess the impact of aggressive rate hikes on global growth.
The ECB will publish the minutes of its last meeting later Thursday, the gathering at which the policymakers decided that a rate hike of 50 basis points would be appropriate in July.
Europe's inflation is running at record levels and surging energy prices suggest the upward pressure on consumer prices will remain substantial for a while longer.
The latest data showed Germany’s industrial output scraped higher in May, despite a big drop in energy output as Europe’s largest economy grapples with an increasingly severe supply crisis.
Adding uncertainty to the region is the ongoing political crisis in the U.K., with Prime Minister Boris Johnson refusing to resign as Conservative leader and prime minister despite losing the confidence of a substantial number of senior figures in his own party.
On the corporate front, Shell (LON: SHEL ) stock rose 1.2% after the energy giant said surging margins from fuel production could have added more than $1 billion to the earnings of its refining business in the last quarter.
Telecom Italia (BIT: TLIT ) stock rose 0.8% after the company set out a plan to split its fixed network infrastructure from its service businesses in a bid to raise cash and cut debt.
Lufthansa (ETR: LHAG ) stock rose 1.5% after German logistics entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kuehne increased his stake in the German flag carrier to 15% from 10%.
Currys (LON: CURY ) stock soared 8% after the British electronics retailer posted better-than-expected annual pre-tax profit, but lowered its earnings guidance for its next two financial years.
Oil prices edged higher Thursday, consolidating after the hefty losses of the last two sessions as the focus returned to the underlying tight nature of supplies even as fears over the demand outlook in the wake of a recession remain.
The U.S. announced fresh sanctions on Iran late Wednesday in an attempt to pressure the Persian Gulf country to revive the 2015 nuclear accord. However, this shows no signs of doing anything but hardening the resolve in Tehran, making the addition of Iranian oil to the global market unlikely in the near term.
Elsewhere, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude stockpiles rose by about 3.8 million barrels last week, and traders will look later in the session for the release of U.S. government data for confirmation of the state of domestic oil and fuel inventories.
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