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Mixed earnings cap gains in European equities ahead of ECB decision

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European stocks rose on Thursday after a mixed string of gains as investors awaited the European Central Bank’s policy decision amid risks of an economic slowdown as the Ukraine crisis fuels inflation.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.1 percent after a strong finish on Wall Street and gains in Asian stocks. Eurozone stocks climbed 0.3 percent higher.

Birkin bag maker Hermes rose 1.4 percent after its quarterly sales beat estimates, buoyed by strong appetite for its luxury accessories, particularly in the United States and Europe.

Troubled travel and leisure stocks gained the most among sectors, with budget airline Wizz Air up 7.2 percent on signs of encouraging summer bookings.

Swedish company Ericsson fell 6 percent after warning of a possible fine from US regulators for its handling of a bribery investigation in Iraq and reporting a fall in quarterly profits.

Investors are waiting to see if the ECB decision, due at 1145 GMT, will provide a clearer timeline for the end of the asset purchase program and subsequent rate hikes.

The ECB, which faces a policy dilemma over record-high inflation and the Ukraine war slowing growth in the eurozone, is lagging behind most of the other major central banks, which began raising interest rates last year.

“Despite rising risks to growth, our economists still expect the ECB to overweight inflation concerns,” RBC analysts said in a statement. “While playing for time, we expect June to become a meeting where further important decisions to guide the tightening process will be made.”

Traders have raised expectations for ECB rate hikes, with money markets pricing in a total of 70 basis points of rate hikes this year, although none of the ECB’s 25 policymakers have called for such aggressive tightening.

Worries about rapid rate hikes and an ongoing conflict in Ukraine kept investors busy and pushed the STOXX 600 on course to end the holiday-shortened week lower.

Due to the Easter holidays, the European stock markets will be closed on Friday and Monday.

Among others, Italian airport and highway operator Atlantia rose 4.9 percent after Italian family holding company Benetton and US investment fund Blackstone announced they would spend up to 12.7 billion euros ($14 billion) to expand to privatize the company.

https://www.independent.ie/business/world/mixed-earnings-cap-gains-in-european-shares-ahead-of-ecb-decision-41553056.html Mixed earnings cap gains in European equities ahead of ECB decision

Fry Electronics Team

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