European Shares May Open On Firm Note As Investors Eye ECB Minutes

European stocks are seen opening on a steady note Thursday as investors await the minutes of the ECB’s last policy meeting later in the day and a key speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Friday for clues about the monetary policy outlook.

The European Central Bank is expected to lift rates by 50 bps at the September 8 policy meeting as inflation climbs due to higher gas and electricity prices.

Meanwhile, markets remain divided on whether the Fed will hike rates by 50 bps or 75 bps at the next policy meeting on Sept 20-21. Powell’s speech on Friday may provide additional clues about the Fed’s plans to tame inflation.

Asian markets traded mostly higher as China’s state cabinet announced Rmb300bn ($44bn) in credit support by its policy banks to shore up an economy stricken by property sector woes, Covid-19 lockdown policies and power shortages.

Gold benefited from weakness in the dollar while oil rose for a third straight session after data showed the U.S. shipped a record amount of crude and refined products overseas last week.

U.S. stocks eked out modest gains overnight to snap a three-day losing streak, as a measure of pending home sales fell less than expected in July and new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods came in unchanged.

The Dow edged up 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index added 0.4 percent.

European stocks closed higher for the first time in three days on Wednesday amid expectations that Fed Chair Powell may use his Jackson Hole speech to stress a slower pace of rate hikes.

The pan European Stoxx 600 inched up 0.2 percent. The German DAX gained 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.4 percent while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 percent.

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