By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets traded largely lower Thursday ahead of a key policy-setting meeting by the European Central Bank, although strong earnings from oil major Shell helped the U.K. market outperform.
This week has seen a deluge of quarterly earnings, with mixed results, and Thursday has been no exception.
Shell (LON: SHEL ) stock rose 4% after the heavily-weighted energy giant said it will buy back up to another $4 billion in stock and raised its dividend by 15% after posting another massive profit in the third quarter, reaping the windfall from high oil and gas prices.
However, the news was more disappointing elsewhere.
Credit Suisse (SIX: CSGN ) stock slumped almost 8% after Switzerland's second-biggest bank announced plans to raise 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.06 billion) of fresh capital following a massive third-quarter loss and a 3.7 billion franc impairment related to its strategy review.
It also announced plans to “radically restructure” its investment bank to significantly cut its exposure to risk-weighted assets, following a series of costly compliance and risk management failures, most notably the Archegos hedge fund scandal.
Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics (EPA: STM ) stock fell 4.8% after forecasting sales growth to slow in the last part of the year, while Neste (HE: NESTE ) stock slumped 8% after the Finnish refiner posted weaker-than-expected third-quarter operating results .
Away from corporate news, the ECB is widely expected to deliver its second 75 basis-point rate hike later in the session, as it tries to curb Eurozone inflation running at nearly 10% versus its 2% target.
Investors will be looking for guidance over the size of subsequent moves, especially following Wednesday’s smaller 50 basis points hike at the Bank of Canada and talk that the Federal Reserve may soon look to ease back the pace of its monetary tightening.
The German GfK consumer sentiment index came in at -41.9 in November, slightly better than -42.8 the previous month, with the country struggling with soaring energy costs and slowing growth.
Oil prices edged higher Thursday, continuing the previous session’s strong gains after record-high U.S. crude exports pointed to healthy global oil demand.
A report from the Energy Information Administration , released Wednesday, detailed a bigger-than-expected rise in U.S. crude inventories, but the market looked through this given a large percentage of the increase came from a drawdown of strategic reserves.
Instead, the focus was on U.S. crude exports surging to a record-high 5.1 million barrels a day, suggesting resilience in global demand despite rising inflation and interest rates.
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