European stocks mostly higher; oil seesaws; Fed minutes ahead – CNBC

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European indexes closed mostly higher on Wednesday as investors reacted to volatile oil markets and awaited the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed up around 0.8 percent provisionally with financial stocks leading the gains. Major bourses were pointing in different directions however, with the FTSE 100 the main underperformer.

Central banks were back in focus on Wednesday as traders awaited the release of minutes from the latest meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve at 2 p.m. ET. Market participants will be looking for further insight into the central bank’s thinking. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and San Francisco Fed President John Williams both said on Tuesday that there could be two or three rate hikes this year.

“Relaxed investors who thought that there would be no rate hike in the near future due to the fact that the economic data doesn’t warrant it, especially given the inflation numbers, had a rude wake-up call yesterday,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Forex, wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Talk of an interest rate rise caused the dollar to strengthen and metals to sell off. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was sharply lower while other metals were also trading lower. This put pressure on basic resource stocks, one of the worst-performing sectors. Anglo American, Glencore and Rio Tinto all finished the session in the red.

Elsewhere in the commodity space, the price of both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate crude futures was slightly higher amid continued supply disruptions and output cuts. In early afternoon trade, crude futures continued the struggle to find gains after the EIA’s weekly inventory data showed a 1.3 million barrel build. Brent, meanwhile, was close to hitting the $50 a barrel mark for the first time since last November.

In the U.S., stocks were trading higher as the Europe session closed with financials and tech leading.

On the earnings front, British luxury fashion brand Burberry reported a 10 percent fall in full-year adjusted pretax profit to £421 million ($607.5 million), warning that the “challenging environment” in the sector would remain in the “near term”. Shares of the firm closed 2.7 percent lower.

And brewing giant SABMiller closed mildly higher after it reported a 16 percent fall in profit before tax in the 12 months to March 31, hit by the strength of the U.S. dollar.

In other corporate news, Novartis shares closed up 1.5 percent after the company said its head of pharmaceuticals, David Epstein, will leave the company. The pharma giant announced plans to split the division that Epstein oversaw in two.

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