- European stocks hold higher
- No action expected from ECB
- Putin agrees to increased dialogue
nearly unchanged at 1.3925
FTSE 100: 0.51%
Dax 30: 0.47%
Cac 50: 0.59%
FTSE Mibtel 30: 1.31%
Ibex 35: 0.80%
Stoxx 600: 0.46%
All eyes are now on the European Central Bank´s (ECB) policy decision at 12:45, which is to be followed by the ECB President´s, Mario Draghi´s, press conference at 13:30.
For the most part economists seem to be rather unanimous in not expecting any moves from Draghi today. In that regard, Kathleen Brooks, Reserach Director at Forex.com, is forecasting no change, arguing that the recent decline in interbank lending rates has taken some of the pressure off of Draghi.
For its part, Unicredit Research wrote to clients explaining that: "We expect no action today, as below-expectation inflation has been largely offset by accelerating economic recovery and the first signs of credit improvement. Some policy change is more likely in June, probably via liquidity/credit easing measures."
Acting as a backdrop, concrete steps where outlined to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine at the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the OSCE´s Chairman, primarily through increased dialogue between the authorities in Kiev and those representing the separatists in the countrys southeast, Interfax cited Putin as having said.
At today´s meeting the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to maintain Bank Rate at 0.5 per cent and the stock of purchased assets financed by the issuance of central bank reserves unchanged at 375bn pounds.
That comes as HSBC said it was on alert for the Bank of England to intervene in the housing sector amid growing concern that a collapse in the booming London market could threaten Britain's economic recovery, The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday morning.
Several Fed speakers were scheduled to take to the podium later in the day.
Data out overnight showed a surprise 0.9% year-on-year rise in Chinese exports for the month of April, well ahead of the 3% monthly drop which analysts had penciled in.
Repsol beats forecasts
Spanish petrochemical giant Repsol unveiled a 1.5% increase in quarterly adjusted net income to €532m; that came in well ahead of analysts´ forecasts.
Shares in Vallourec, the French manufacturer of steel pipes for the oil and gas industry, advanced 3% after unveiling first-quarter earnings that came in ahead of analysts´ estimates.
Tiremaker Pirelli has unveiled profits which fell short of projections.
From a sector stand-point the best performance was to be seen in the following industrial groups: Real estate (0.92%) and Financial services (0.90%).
Weak industrial production figures in Germany
Industrial production in Germany decreased by 0.5% month-on-month in March, according to the Federal Office of Statistics.
The consensus estimate had been for a gain of 0.2% over the month (4.2% year-on-year).
Euro steady at 1.3940
Front month Brent crude futures were down 0.427% at $107.67/barrel on the ICE.
The single currency was 0.22% higher at 1.3940 versus the US dollar.