Euro shares up ahead of ECB meeting
European stocks advanced as investors awaited a policy meeting by the euro area’s central bank, amid speculation on the timing of a Spanish bailout. US index futures and Asian shares were little changed.
Halfords Group jumped 14 per cent after saying earnings will be in the upper half of its previous forecast. Nobel Biocare Holding AG slid 6.8 per cent as the world’s second-biggest maker of dental implants said full-year profit will be affected by a deteriorating Japanese market.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.5 per cent to 272.59. The benchmark measure fell 2.7 per cent last week as Germany and France disagreed on the timing of a banking union in the euro area and concern grew that the latest round of U.S. stimulus won’t be enough to spur growth. The gauge has still climbed 11 per cent this year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures climbed 0.6 per cent today, as did the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.
“Traders are gearing themselves up for two days of important economic announcements,” Daniel Victory, a trader at Capital Spreads, wrote in e-mailed comments. Tommorow’s US payrolls data will see “either the bulls or the bears really take a stranglehold on markets that have been range-bound for the past two weeks.”
The European Central Bank will keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.75 per cent, economists in a Bloomberg survey predicted before its monthly policy meeting in Ljubljana today. The ECB will announce the decision at 12:45pm London time, 45 minutes before its president Mario Draghi speaks at a press briefing. The ECB holds its Governing Council meeting away from Frankfurt twice a year.
The Bank of England will maintain its bond-purchase target at 375 billion pounds and keep its key interest rate at 0.5 per cent, according to the median estimates of economists in separate Bloomberg surveys. The decision is due at noon in London.
Spain is seeking to sell as much as 4 billion euros of government bonds at an auction today. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refrained from seeking a bailout for the indebted country, a month after the ECB announced an unlimited bond-buying plan to bring down borrowing costs in Spain and Italy.
Investors are also waiting for US data on employment and factory orders, before a monthly payrolls report tomorrow.
Initial jobless claims increased to 370,000 last week, from 359,000 in the prior period, economists predicted before a Labor Department report due at 8:30am in Washington. Another release may show factory orders declined 5.9 per cent in August, after increasing 2.8 per cent a month earlier, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The Federal Reserve Open Committee will release minutes from the latest policy meeting at 2 pm New York time, after European markets close.
Halfords gained 14 per cent to 303.3 pence after the company said it expects 2013 profit before tax in the upper half of its previously forecast range of 62 million pounds to 70 million pounds. The company, which appointed Matt Davies as Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect, reported second-half same-store sales growth that beat analyst estimates.
Nobel Biocare declined 6.8 per cent to 8.80 Swiss francs after saying a drop in the Japanese market in the third quarter is “materially impacting” full-year sales and profit. Annual earnings before interest and taxes will be in the range of 67 million euros to 70 million euros, the company said. While Japan represents 13 per cent of sales, it contributes “disproportionately high profit,” the company said.
Telefonica SA added 0.8 per cent to 10.58 euros after two people familiar with the matter said Spain’s biggest phone operator plans to reduce its fleet of private jets as part of an effort to lower costs.