EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Choppy As U.K. Budget, ECB Decision Loom

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By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

Adidas shares spring higher on outlook

European stocks were trading in choppy fashion Wednesday, with mixed economic data from the region arriving ahead of so-called risk events for the market.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was up 0.2% at 372.81, but was swinging between small gains and losses. Oil and gas, and health care shares led decliners, but the financial and technology groups rose modestly. The index on Tuesday fell 0.3% to 372.27, the fourth loss in a row for the pan-European benchmark after last week hitting its highest level in a year.

Stocks in London were also seesawing, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 up 0.1% at 7,344.54 before the government unveils its spring budget Wednesday afternoon. U.K. Treasury chief Philip Hammond is likely to stress fiscal discipline as the country prepares to leave the European Union.

"He is likely to reiterate that the U.K. is well prepared for the challenges of the Brexit decision and base his views on the positive progress of the economy in recent months. However, as the effects of the cheap pound seem to fade away, market participants might opt for more cautiousness," said ADS Securities researcher Konstantinos Anthis in a note.

The budget presentation comes ahead of the European Central Bank's policy decision on Thursday and Friday's closely watched monthly jobs report from the U.S., the world's largest economy.

For the ECB, "with eurozone inflation now at 2%, key to how markets respond to the announcement will be any change to forward guidance, the tone of Chief [Mario] Draghi's post-meeting press conference and the extent to which the central bank revises its economic forecasts," analysts at Econoday said in a note.

And: There's another land of opportunity in the reflation trade--Europe

Movers: Adidas AG shares (>> adidas AG) leapt 6.2% after the sportswear and equipment maker raised its mid-term earnings targets and its 2016 dividend after its fourth-quarter and full-year results were stronger than expected.

Deutsche Post AG (>> Deutsche Post AG) logged a more than 25% rise in net profit in the fourth quarter, leading the German parcel delivery company to increase its dividend for the year. But shares were off 2.4%.

Inmarsat PLC (>> Inmarsat Plc) (>> Inmarsat Plc) shares popped up 6.9% as the satellite operator reported a 5% rise in fourth-quarter pretax profit and raised its final dividend payment .

Data:France's trade deficit widened to 7.94 billion euros ($8.38 billion) in January from EUR3.57 billion in December, as exports of Airbus (>> Airbus Group) aircraft slumped. A jump in imports of pharmaceutical products and higher costs for imported oil also contributed to the wider deficit.

German industrial production rose sharply in January, by 2.8%, despite a drop in manufacturing orders at the start of the year.

Indexes: Germany's DAX 30 turned up by 0.3% to at 11,997.74, while France's CAC 40 was flat at 4,955.

The euro traded at $1.0555, down from $1.0568 late Tuesday.

Stocks mentioned in the article : adidas AG, Inmarsat Plc, Deutsche Post AG, Airbus Group

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