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Europe close: Stocks end mostly higher ahead of Fed meeting minutes

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Wednesday 21 Feb 2024

Europe close:  Stocks end mostly higher ahead of Fed meeting minutes

(Sharecast News) - Stocks on the continent ended the day higher for the most part, amid another raft of corporate earnings.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 0.17% to 491.05 despite gains for all the main regional indices, save for the FTSE 100 which was dragged down by 0.73% to 7,662.51.

Investors were looking ahead to the release of the Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes after the close for clues on the timing of rate cuts.

Nevertheless, noises from the central bank in recent weeks have dampened hopes of an easing any time soon.

"While markets have shifted their expectations around the timing of the first rate cut from March to June, the current prediction of four 25 basis point cuts [by the Fed] does still contrast from recent Powell comments calling for two or three," said Scopemarkets analyst Joshua Mahony.

"Today's FOMC minutes provide the basis for further hawkish tones, which could help lift the dollar should we see the committee once again reiterate their cautious approach for the year ahead."

In economic news, the UK recorded its largest January budget surplus in at least three decades, fuelling talk of a pre-election tax-cut giveaway, even though the government has pencilled in a second round of austerity cuts to public services starting next year.

The £16.7bn surplus, the largest surplus since monthly records began in 1993, was double that of January 2023.

In the equity space, HSBC fell despite a 78% jump in annual pre-tax profits to $30bn, missing forecasts of $34bn as it took a $3bn hit from its investment in a Chinese bank.

Glencore fell after annual results reflected the slide in global metals prices.

NKT A/S made gains as the Danish power cable and optical parts maker posted strong annual results.



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