Investing.com

Investing.com - European stocks remained mostly lower on Wednesday, after data showed that the annual rate of inflation in the euro zone rose more slowly than expected this month and as investors awaited the Federal Reserve''s upcoming policy statement.



During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 slid 0.38%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.43%, while Germany’s DAX dipped 0.02%.



The annual rate of inflation in the euro zone ticked up to 0.7% in April, Eurostat reported, after falling to a record low 0.5% in March. Market expectations had been for an increase to 0.8%. The European Central Bank targets an inflation rate of close to but just under 2%.



Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs rose 1% in April, accelerating from 0.7% in March and in line with expectations.



The uptick in inflation eased pressure on the ECB to take steps to tackle low inflation in the euro zone. Earlier this month the central bank warned that it could launch a "broad-based" asset purchase program if the medium-term inflation outlook deteriorated.



Financial stocks remained broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PARIS) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PARIS) plummeted 3.61% and 1.08%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) lost 1.04%.



Bloomberg reported earlier that Credit Suisse (CSGN.SIX), up 0.18%, and BNP Paribas are at risk of being criminally charged by U.S. prosecutors. Credit Suisse is being investigated for having potentially helped Americans evade taxes, while the French bank has possibly violated sanctions barring business with prohibited countries.



Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) and Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) retreated 0.56% and 1.03% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) declined 0.16% and 1.31%.



On the upside, German automaker Volkswagen (VOWG.XETRA) jumped 1.29% after extending the offer period for its €6.7 billion bid for the rest of Scania (SCVAs.BS), as too few minority shareholders agreed to sell their shares.



In London, FTSE 100 edged up 0.16%, supported by Royal Dutch Shell A (RDSa.LONDON), up 4.01%, after the oil giant reported a fall in first-quarter profit after taking a $2.86 billion impairment charge largely on its refineries in Asia and Europe.



The company also raised its dividend and said it is considering the sale of certain marketing assets in Norway.



Meanwhile, financial stocks turned mostly higher, as Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LONDON) edged up 0.07% and Barclays (BARC.LONDON) gained 0.47%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LONDON) rose 0.37%. HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LONDON) underperformed on the other hand, tumbling 1.03%.



In the mining sector, stocks were also broadly higher. Shares in Rio Tinto (RIO.LONDON) added 0.09% and Bhp Billiton (BLT.LONDON) rose 0.21%, while rivals Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LONDON) and Randgold Resources (RRS.LONDON) advanced 0.62% and 1.20% respectively.



In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.08% loss, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.17% fall, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.36% decline.



Also Wednesday, data showed that Spain’s economy grew at the fastest quarterly rate in six years in the first three months of the year. Spain’s gross domestic product expanded 0.4% from the previous quarter and grew by a larger than forecast 0.6% on a year-over-year basis.



Later in the day, the U.S. was to release preliminary data on first quarter gross domestic product, as well as the ADP report on private sector job creation and data on manufacturing activity in the Chicago region.





Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger