European Shares Rise As Investors Await ECB Decision

European stocks rose on Thursday, although overall gains remained modest ahead of an ECB policy meeting due at 7.45 am ET.

The central bank is expected to keep its refi rate at zero percent and the deposit rate at -0.4 percent. The announcement will be followed by a press conference, at 8.30 am ET.

It remains to be seen whether ECB President Mario Draghi will signal measures towards winding down the bank’s quantitative easing program at some point this autumn.

Earlier in the day, Sweden’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate and the asset purchase program unchanged, as expected, and reiterated it would not raise rates until the middle of 2018.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.2 percent at 374.59 in late opening deals after closing 0.1 percent higher the previous day.

The German DAX rallied as much as 1 percent, led by automakers, while France’s CAC 40 was rising half a percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent.

Automakers extended Wednesday’s rally after Barclays and Goldman Sachs upgraded their ratings on the sector. BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Renault and Peugeot climbed 1-2 percent.

Bovis Homes shares soared 6.5 percent in London. The troubled housebuilder posted weak half-year results but said it would raise its dividend this year and next, reflecting its confidence in the outlook for the business under new chief executive Greg Fitzgerald.

Tobacco company Imperial Brands rallied 3.6 percent after trimming its stake in Spanish logistics company Logista.

British outsourcer Capita tumbled 4 percent after restating its 2016 accounts due to accounting changes.

In economic releases, German industrial output showed nil growth in July following a 1.1 percent decrease in June, data from Destatis showed.

The French trade deficit widened in July to 5.97 billion euros from 4.88 billion euros in June as imports grew faster than exports, data from the customs office showed.

Eurostat reported that the euro area economy expanded 0.6 percent sequentially in the second quarter, faster than the 0.5 percent expansion seen in the first quarter. The rate came in line with the estimate released on August 16.

U.K. house prices advanced 2.6 percent year-on-year in three months to August, faster than the 2.1 percent increase seen in three months to July, data from mortgage lender Halifax and IHS Markit revealed.

by RTT Staff Writer

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