By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets have traded in a mixed fashion Thursday ahead of the latest meeting of the European Central Bank, with losses from heavily-weighted Shell (LON:) hitting the U.K.
At 4:130 AM ET (0830 GMT), the U.K.’s index traded 0.1% lower, while 40 was up 0.4%, while the rose 0.1%. The broader based Europe index was flat.
In a busy day for corporate news, oil major Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:) stole the limelight, and not in a good way, by cutting its dividend for the first time in 80 years and suspending the next tranche of its share buyback program. Shell shares dropped 8.3%.
On the flip side, Airbus (PA:) gained 5.5% on news it was in talks with the French state over possible aid, while Safran (PA:) jumped 4.7% as the aerospace supplier said it aims to maintain positive cash flow over the full year “despite significant potential headwinds” from the crisis.
The focus later Thursday will be on the European Central Bank, which delivers its latest at 7:45 AM ET (1145 GMT).
President Christine Lagarde and her colleagues have already ramped up bond-buying of vulnerable nations, but expectations are running high that the central bank will do more Thursday, given how the region’s governments are struggling to agree on joint fiscal action.
The ECB is meeting on a day that eurozone economies are following the U.S. in announcing the biggest quarterly drops in GDP in over a decade. France’s fell 5.8% while Spain’s fell 5.2% in the first quarter. Figures for the euro zone as a whole are due at 5 AM ET (0900 GMT). Germany, meanwhile, reported that businesses have enrolled over 10 million workers in the government’s wage subsidy scheme for reduced working hours.
Oil futures pushed higher Thursday, helped by stockpiles of rising less than expected last week and well below the recent trend, according to the Energy Information Administration Wednesday.
At 4:15 AM ET, U.S. crude June futures traded 13% higher at $17.02 a barrel. The international benchmark contract rose 7.1% to $25.94.
Elsewhere, rose 1% to $1,729.60/oz, while traded at 1.0877, largely flat.
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