Investing.com - European stocks were mixed on Wednesday, as investors eyed the minutes of the Federal Reserve''s latest policy meeting and as markets awaited more information on the future of the European Central Bank''s next policy moves.
During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 edged up 0.10%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.25%, while Germany’s DAX added 0.16%.
European equities strengthened recently amid mounting expectations for monetary easing by the ECB at its next meeting in June and data last week showing that the euro zone economy grew at a slower than forecast rate in the first quarter.
But markets were jittery ahead of the minutes from the Fed’s latest monetary policy meeting due later on Wednesday, as investors awaited further indications on the central bank''s view of the economy.
Financial stocks turned broadly higher, as French lender Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) jumped 1.12%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) and Commerzbank (XETRA:CBKG) climbed 0.38% and 1.41%.
BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) was still hit however, down 1.45%, following earlier news the U.S. will seek more than $5 billion from the French bank to settle a probe into alleged violations of U.S. sanctions.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) and Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) gained 0.61% and 1.08% respectively, while Spain''s Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) rose 0.34% and 0.50%.
Elsewhere, Alstom (PARIS:ALSO) dropped 0.75% after Chief Executive Officer Patrick Kron called on the French government to back a $17 billion offer by General Electric (NYSE:GE) for its energy units, saying uncertainty about his company’s future is making it difficult to win orders.
In London, FTSE 100 edged down 0.19%, after the minutes of the Bank of England’s May meeting showed that some members believe the decision on when to raise rates is "becoming more balanced," indicating that some policymakers are becoming more hawkish about the argument for hiking borrowing costs.
Financial stocks turned mixed, as the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) added 0.21% and Barclays (LONDON:BARC) advanced 0.85%, while Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) retreated 0.74%, and HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) plummeted 1.67%.
Meanwhile, mining stocks remained broadly lower, as Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) slipped 0.10% and Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) declined 0.44%, while Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) retreated 0.85%.
Burberry Group (LONDON:BRBY) erased earlier losses on the other hand, rallying 1.19%, after the luxury-goods maker reported full-year profit exceeding analysts’ estimates.
Astrazeneca (LONDON:AZN) added to gains, up 1.22%, after Neil Woodford, a long-time shareholder and one of the group''s biggest institutional stockholders, said the drugmaker will earn better returns for shareholders by staying independent and therefore refusing Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)''s £69 billion takeover offer.
Also in the U.K., the Office of National Statistics said retail sales jumped 1.3% in April, more than double forecasts for a 0.5% increase, driven by higher food sales over the Easter holiday.
On a year-over-year basis, retail sales climbed 6.9% in April, ahead of expectations for a 5.2% gain after rising by 4.8% in March.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures
pointed to a 0.32% rise, S&P 500 futures
signaled a 0.33% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures
indicated a 0.38% increase.