Europe stocks cautiously higher ahead of ECB meeting and easing trade-war tensions

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European stocks inched up Thursday, boosted by hopes for monetary policy stimulus from an important European Central Bank meeting, plus encouraging signals from the U.S.-China trade tussle.

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.09%  rose less than a percent to 389.88.

Stocks in the mining, apparel, beverages and tobacco sectors were making the biggest advances, while oil and banks SX7E, +0.22%  and insurers advanced, while energy names such as Total SA TOT, -0.83% FP, -1.02%  and BP PLC BP, -0.11% BP, -0.86%  lost ground.

The German DAX DAX, +0.08%  rose 0.2% to 12382.70, the French CAC 40 PX1, +0.44%   rose 0.4% to 5618.06 and the U.K. FTSE 100 UKX, +0.01%  gained 0.3% to 7363.21.

U.S. stock futures ES00, +0.17%  rose on the heels of the 6th-straight gain for the Dow industrials DJIA, +0.85%  and the 5th-straight win for the S&P 500 SPX, +0.72%  on Wednesday. Stock futures got a boost after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he would delay tariff hikes against China until October 15. That comes a day after China announced a list of 16 U.S. products that would be exempt from a coming round of its own tariff hikes.

The main event for investors Thursday will be an ECB policy decision, expected at 1:45 p.m. local time (7:45 a.m. Eastern), followed by a news conference with President Mario Draghi at 2:30 p.m. The central bank is expected to push its deposit rate further into negative territory and potentially embark on a new round of asset buying.

Read: ECB must try to avoid wrecking eurozone banks with a rate cut

And: Too little or never enough: The ECB risks delivering only disappointment

“While it seems the ECB will throw the kitchen sink at slow growth and persistently lackluster inflation, markets seem to want the taps, the plug and the plumbing thrown in for good measure too,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst, Markets.com, in a note to clients.

Of companies in the spotlight, shares of Alstom SA ALO, -4.75%  tumbled nearly 5% after French telecoms group Bouygues SA EN, +0.34%  said it has sold a 13% stake in the French multinational group

Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD, +0.07% ABI, +2.81% shares jumped 4% on Thursday amid reports the parent of beer giant Budweiser is planning to list a slimmer version of its Asia unit.

In London, shares of British American Tobacco A, +2.97%  climbed 3% after the company said it would lay off 2,300 employees by 2020. And the London Stock Exchange LSE, +0.08%  slipped 0.6% after the Financial Times reported the group would reject a nearly $40 billion (30 billion pounds) buyout offer from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.