Bank of England rate decision and earnings in focus

Bank of England rate decision and earnings in focus

European stocks were slightly lower Thursday morning, as investors monitored a slew of corporate earnings and reacted to the Bank of England’s decision to leave interest rates unchanged.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down around 0.15% during early morning deals, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.

It comes after futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes closed flat on Wednesday, as investors monitored the ongoing brinkmanship between lawmakers over a new prospective stimulus package. President Donald Trump’s administration threatened on Wednesday to act on its own to provide coronavirus relief after another day of talks on Capitol Hill failed to result in an agreement.

Stocks in the Asia Pacific traded mixed on Thursday as investors monitored simmering tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies. 

Back in Europe, the Bank of England said on Thursday it was keeping benchmark interest rates at an all-time low of 0.1% and left the size of its bond-buying program unchanged at £745 billion ($981 billion).

Sterling climbed 0.4% to notch a fresh five-month high of $1.317 shortly after the announcement. The U.K. currency has since pared gains. 

The BOE said the U.K.’s gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to have fallen 20% in the second quarter when compared to the final three months of last year. The Monetary Policy Committee’s central projection was for U.K. GDP to continue to recover beyond the near term, but it warned that the economy was unlikely to exceed its pre-pandemic level until the end of 2021.

Looking at individual stocks, French diagnostics company Eurofins surged to the top of the European benchmark during morning trade. Shares of the Paris-listed stock jumped more than 13% after the firm launched a new, lower-cost product to detect the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, British engineer Meggitt tumbled to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 amid speculation the company may need to raise new equity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said in a statement on Thursday that its financial and liquidity position remained robust, Reuters reported. Shares of the London-listed stock slipped over 6%. 

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