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European markets mixed ahead of BOE rate decision; BT shares dive 8%

European markets mixed ahead of BOE rate decision; BT shares dive 8%

European markets were mixed Thursday morning, as investors turned their attention to a monetary policy meeting by the U.K.’s central bank.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was little changed from the previous session during early morning deals, with major bourses and sectors pointing in opposite directions.

Europe’s telecoms stocks were among those to lead the losses on Thursday morning, down 0.4 percent amid earnings news. BT posted weaker-than-anticipated figures over the first three months of the year and announced plans to cut 13,000 managerial and back-office jobs. Britain’s largest telecoms group also said it would leave its London headquarters in its latest attempt to regroup after an accounting scandal. Shares of the company were nearly 8 percent lower in early morning deals.

Meanwhile, media stocks rose 0.7 percent after Britain’s free-to-air commercial broadcaster, ITV, projected net advertising revenue would jump approximately 15 percent in June as viewers tune in for the soccer World Cup. The London-listed stock also reported earnings largely in line with expectations on Thursday. Shares of ITV were up 3 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, RBS rallied over 5 percent after it agreed to pay a smaller-than-anticipated $4.9 billion to resolve a long-running investigation into its sale of mortgage-backed securities.

Elsewhere, Randgold Resources shares slumped after the gold producer reported a 24 percent quarter-on-quarter fall in profit. The company cited rising costs and disappointing production levels over the first three months of the year. Its shares were off almost 7 percent on the news.

Politics has been a major focus over the course of this week, from an election result in Asia and the easing of geopolitical tensions to the news that President Donald Trump would be pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear accord.

After the news broke about Iran on Tuesday, oil prices have been on the rise and continued to extend gains on Thursday, with Brent hovering around $77.75 per barrel, while U.S. crude fluctuated around $71.70. Following the U.S. announcement, allies in Europe have been trying to salvage the Iran deal, and preserve their trade relations with the Middle Eastern nation.

Markets in Asia edged higher, lifted by a rise in oil prices as investors digested news out of Malaysia. On Thursday, it was announced that Mahathir Mohamad had led an opposition coalition to victory in the country’s national election.

Back in Europe, the Bank of England (BOE) is expected to issue its latest interest rate decision and publish its inflation report. During Thursday’s meeting, the BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee is projected to hold fire on changing its interest rate strategy, despite analysts previously expecting a different outcome in recent weeks.

Last month, short-term interest rates had been pricing in another 25 basis point rate hike with near certainty, however, BOE Governor Mark Carney suppressed expectations following comments during a BBC interview, where he said that data was coming in on the “softer side.”

—CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche contributed to this report

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