European Stocks Hold Steady as ECB Upgrades Growth Assessment

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ECB Drops Guidance About Further Rate Cuts

European stocks ended the session little changed after the European Central Bank upgraded its economic-growth assessment while lowering it for inflation. Italian stocks outperformed.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was at 389.15 at the close, down 0.03 point from a day before. The U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.4 percent, as Britons vote in elections today. Across Europe, banks and miners rose the most, offsetting a drop in food and beverage shares. The Stoxx 600 was down every day this week as investors turned cautious ahead of Thursday’s risk events.

  • The ECB sees 2017 gross domestic product growth at 1.9 percent versus 1.8 percent previously, President Mario Draghi said at a press conference in Tallinn, Estonia. The institution ruled out further interest-rate cuts in a sign of moving closer to an exit from its stimulus program.
  • Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB climbed as much as 1.5 percent after the country moved away from a possible early vote this year; that followed the failure of a multi-party agreement on a new election law to hold up in parliament.
  • U.K. small-cap and mid-cap shares have gained more than the benchmark FTSE 100 Index of the largest companies this year. Investors should be long the FTSE 100 and short the FTSE 250 as the start of Brexit negotiations is set to trigger a drop in U.K. economic growth while inflation should rise, Societe Generale strategists including Alain Bokobza wrote in a note.
  • While U.K. equity investors have kept their calm ahead of the election, they’re not leaving anything to chance. Traders have boosted hedging, sending the number of FTSE 100 Index options to this year’s high.
  • Among shares active on corporate news, Remy Cointreau SA rose 3.2 percent after the company forecast higher profitability and earnings rose at the fastest pace in five years.

— With assistance by Elena Popina

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