By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open higher Thursday, building on the previous session’s gains as investors await the release of the minutes from the latest meeting of the European Central Bank.
Equity investors have been trying this week to put behind them the brutal sell-off of the first half of the year, while nervously keeping a close eye on central bank actions as they try to assess the impact of aggressive rate hikes on global growth.
The minutes of the June meeting of the Federal Reserve were released on Wednesday, and detailed the U.S. central bank's firm intent to get prices under control, hence the 0.75 percentage-point rate increase which came out of the meeting.
According to the minutes, participants judged that anof 50 or 75 basis points would likely be appropriate at the policy meeting later this month.
The European Central Bank will also publish the minutes of its last meeting later Thursday, at which the policymakers decided that a rate hike of 50 basis points would be appropriate in July.
Europe's inflation is running at record levels and surging energy prices suggest the upward pressure on consumer prices will remain substantial for a while longer. That said, economic data has pointed to a rapid slowing of economic growth in the region, with the latest example being German industrial production growing just 0.2% on the month in May, a drop from revised upward 1.3% growth the month before.
Also of interest will be the growing political crisis in the U.K., with Prime Minister Boris Johnson refusing to resign as Conservative leader and prime minister despite losing the confidence of a substantial number of senior figures in his own party.
On the corporate front, Telecom Italia (BIT: TLIT ) is likely to be in the spotlight as it set out a plan to split its fixed network infrastructure from its service businesses in a bid to raise cash and cut debt.
Oil prices edged lower Thursday, largely stabilizing after the hefty losses of the last two sessions as the focus returned to the underlying tight nature of supplies even as fears over the demand outlook in the wake of a recession remain.
The U.S. announced fresh sanctions on Iran late Wednesday in an attempt to pressure the Persian Gulf country to revive the 2015 nuclear accord. However, this shows no signs of doing anything but hardening the resolve in Tehran, making the addition of Iranian oil to the global market unlikely in the near term.
Elsewhere, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude stockpiles rose by about 3.8 million barrels last week, and traders will look later in the session for the release of U.S. government data for confirmation of the state of domestic oil and fuel inventories.
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