- BoE keeps policy unchanged
- ECB to release latest decision
- German industrial production falls
- Russia retaliates to sanctions
CAC 40: -0.55%
FTSE MIB: 0.27%
IBEX 35: -0.65%
Stoxx 600: -0.17%
European stocks were little changed after the Bank of England (BoE) decided to maintain policy and before the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled its latest move.
The BoE announced it would keep interest rates at a record 0.5% low and asset purchases at £375bn, as expected by analysts.
Speculation of an earlier-than-predicted interest rate hike has been growing amid signs of a pick-up in UK economic growth.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) on Tuesday predicted the BoE could raise interest rates as soon as February while most BoE policymakers expect an increase in mid-2015.
The ECB is also expected to keep policy unchanged, including interest rates, when it makes its announcement Thursday afternoon.
"The focus will be on the press conference and the assessment of latest economic and financial developments: we expect the ECB to take stock of the ongoing weakness in growth and inflation and reiterate its commitment to implement further easing measures should the situation worsen in the second half of the year," Barclays Research said.
"We still think the bar for outright quantitative easing is quite high and the decision to buy European government bonds would require renewed recession or outright deflation. It will take until year-end to implement the June measures, and more unconventional measures are unlikely to be envisaged before then."
Meanwhile, German industrial production fell 0.5% year-on-year in June, after rising 1.1% in May, surprising analysts who predicted a 0.3% increase.
Later on in Thursday's session, the US will see the release of the initial jobless claims report.
Russia bans food imports
Russia banned a range of food imports from the US and Europe in response to sanctions imposed by the West.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday the restrictions include all cheese, fish, beef, pork, fruit, vegetables and dairy products.
The European Union, US, Canada, Australia and Norway have imposed sanctions against Russia for its insurgence in Ukraine.
Adidas retreated as the sports-gear maker cut its profit forecast for 2014 following a drop in first-half revenue in North America.
Beiersdorf slumped as the maker of Nivea body wash reported first-half organic sales growth that fell short of analysts' estimates.
Commerzbank rallied as the German bank posted a rise in second-quarter net income as it shed unwanted assets.
Munich Re declined after the world's biggest reinsurer announced profit that missed estimates.
Rio Tinto advanced after first-half profit rose 21% as it shipped record volumes of iron ore.
Nestle gained after announcing an 8bn Swiss franc share buyback and reiterated its full-year sales forecast.
The euro fell 0.04% to $1.3378.
Brent crude futures dropped 0.28% to $104.29 per barrel, according to the ICE.