Europe Stocks Steady as Traders Assess Fed Minutes, OPEC Meeting

Saudi Energy Minister Says 9-Month Extension a 'Safe Bet'

European stocks held steady as investors awaited a key decision by crude oil-producing countries after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed most officials judged it would be appropriate to tighten U.S. monetary policy again soon.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent at the close. Financial services and household goods companies were among the best performers, while basic resources and energy stocks underperformed. Some European stock exchanges are closed for the Ascension holiday. The benchmark gauge ended Wednesday’s session little changed, as an advance in travel and leisure shares offset a decline in automakers.

  • Minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting confirmed the likelihood of a June rate increase, while casting some doubts over the trajectory for borrowing costs thereafter. Federal funds futures show traders are betting a rate hike next month is a virtual certainty.
  • “While markets may be thinking June is a done deal, some on the Fed appear to be less certain,” Michael Hewson, a market analyst at CMC Markets in London, wrote in a note.
  • The Stoxx 600 is poised for a weekly gain of about 0.2 percent, after posting its biggest slide since November last Friday.
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