European stocks traded mixed on Wednesday, with retail stocks rising after Inditex results, as investors waited for the outcome of the Federal Reserve meeting later. U.S. stock futures also rose.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index
was up 0.3% to 372.22, on the heels of a 0.7% gain on Tuesday. The German DAX
was flat while the French CAC 40
dropped 0.4%. The FTSE 100
fell 0.4%, driven south as the British pound
climbed 0.7% against the U.S. dollar, which was weaker after U.S. retail sales rose in August, though slowed from the previous month.
U.S. stocks opened around 0.3% higher across the board.
Investors are waiting for the outcome of the last Federal Reserve policy meeting before the U.S. presidential election, after the close of European markets.
Economists expect the Fed to signal interest rates will remain unchanged and close to zero through the end of 2023. The Fed will release 2023 economic forecasts for the first time.
Also grabbing attention is Snowflake
the biggest-ever software initial public offering that will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange later on Wednesday. Backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, the cloud-data specialist is expected to raise nearly $4 billion.
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on Thursday. U.K. data released on Wednesday showed annual inflation slowing sharply in August, with consumer prices up 0.2% versus a 1% rise in July. Data released on Tuesday showed 700,000 jobs have been lost in the U.K. since the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdowns in March.
Read: U.K. employment picture worsens in August as payrolls fall, unemployment rate increases
The retail sector was leading gains, led by a 6% rise in shares of Inditex
the world’s biggest fashion store group, after the Spanish owner of Zara and Bershka returned to a profit in the second quarter, from a loss in the previous quarter from COVID-19 -related store closures.
The group’s online sales rose 74% in the first half of the year, though the retailer swung to a net loss in that period. The company said 98% of stores were now open.
Shares of rival H&M
which beat expectations on earnings on Tuesday, gained close to 2%, and those of sportswear maker Puma
On the downside, shares of Grenke
tumbled 33%. Short-selling firm Viceroy Research alleged accounting fraud at the leasing company, triggering a slide in shares on Tuesday. The firm didn’t return a request for comment. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Germany’s financial market regulator, BaFin, has launched a probe into the company.
Losses for major oil companies weighed on indexes, with Total
down 1.8% and Royal Dutch Shell Group
In London, shares of International Consolidated Airlines Group
fell 4%, after the boss of British Airways, which it operates, told the Commons Transport Select Committee that the airline was “fighting for survival.” Chief Executive Álex Cruz said the airline’s pandemic-driven job losses would total 10,000, from an earlier proposed figure of 12,000.