- BoE and ECB policy decisions released
- Osborne hails UK recovery in Autumn Statement
- Investors wait for US data
FTSE 100: -0.07%
CAC 40: -0.18%
FTSE MIB: -0.19%
IBEX 35: -0.01%
Stoxx 600: -0.13%
European stocks were broadly flat before the latest policy announcements from the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BoE) and the release of US data.
The BoE, as expected, kept its policy on hold, maintaining its benchmark interest rate at 0.50% and asset purchases at £375bn.
The Bank has vowed that it will not consider raising the rate until employment reaches at least 7%. Even then the central bank will not necessarily raise interest rates, BoE Governor Mark Carney has stressed.
The ECB is also expected to maintain its policy by holding interest rates at 0.25%.
The central bank last month surprised the market by lowering its rate from 0.50% due to deflation fears. Inflation is running at 0.9%, far below the ECB's target of just under 2%.
ECB President Mario Draghi said the Eurozone "may experience a prolonged period of low inflation" and that the central bank was ready to consider using all available policy tools.
With the ECB and BoE unlikely to change their policies, investors are today focused on the release of US data to gauge the health of the world's biggest economy which will determine when the Federal Reserve will begin reducing monetary stimulus.
"The Bank of England and the European Central Bank are both unlikely to loosen further or tighten in the coming months, while tapering of the Fed's asset purchase program could come as early as this month," said Alpari analyst Craig Erlam.
US data out today includes consumer confidence, initial jobless claims, continuing claims and GDP figures.
Autumn Statement reveals longer wait for pensions
Chancellor George Osborne has revealed in his Autumn Statement that UK growth this year has been twice as good as expected.
He confirmed the state has boosted the amount raised in taxes and allowed the government to borrow billions less than planned.
However, the Chancellor warned the size of the nation's debt mountain means under-50s will have to work into their seventies before receiving the pension and the young jobless should lose benefits. This comes as part of a fresh round of £3bn in spending cuts over three years.
Merck agrees to buy AZ Electronics
Luxembourg-based and London-listed AZ Electronic Materials advanced after Merck KGaA agreed to buy the company for about £1.6bn.
Vienna Insurance Group AG dropped as an undisclosed seller offered 2.29m shares
in the company.
FLSmidth & Co. A/S slumped as the Danish mining-equipment maker lowered its forecast earnings margin.
Remy Cointreau SA gained after the maker of Remy Martin cognac said its board has authorised a buyback of up to 2.5m shares.
Crude oil advances
Brent crude futures rose $0.116 to $112.010 per barrel, according to the ICE.
The euro fell 0.2% to $1.3591.