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European markets edge higher ahead of ECB rate decision, Brexit summit; Indivior shares tank 75%

Sam Meredith
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.2% during lunchtime deals, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
  • Market focus is largely to attuned to global trade developments, after the U.S. and Europe locked horns over tariffs in the previous session.
  • European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU should consider offering the U.K. a "flexible" delay to Brexit of up to a year.

European stocks were slightly higher Wednesday afternoon, with EU leaders likely to grant British Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Brexit .

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.2% during lunchtime deals, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Europe's retail stocks were among the top performers during early afternoon trade, up around 0.8% amid earnings news. Supermarket group Tesco TSCO-GB reported a stronger-than-anticipated 34% rise in full-year operating profit on Wednesday, putting the company firmly on track to meet the majority of its turnaround goals. Shares of Britain's biggest retailer rose 2.5% on the news.

Looking at individual stocks, Danish engineering group FLSmidth FLS-DK surged toward the top of the European benchmark after Morgan Stanley raised its stock recommendation to "overweight" from "equal-weight." Shares of the Copenhagen-listed firm advanced over 4%.

Meanwhile, shares of Indivior INDV-GB tanked 75% Wednesday afternoon after the U.S. Justice Department accused the British drug-maker of illegally boosting prescriptions for the film version of its blockbuster opioid addiction treatment Suboxone, Reuters reported .

ECB meeting

Market focus is largely to attuned to global trade developments, after the U.S. and Europe locked horns over tariffs in the previous session.

President Donald Trump threatened to impose charges on $11 billion worth of European Union products on Tuesday, escalating tensions in a long-running transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute.

Global economic growth was another sore point for risk asset markets. The International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) cut its forecast for world economic growth this year , saying a slowdown could force world leaders to coordinate stimulus measures.

The IMF also sharply downgraded growth in the euro zone economy, adding to building pressure on the European Central Bank ( ECB ) ahead of its meeting later in the session.

Policymakers at the ECB will meet in Frankfurt on Wednesday, with investors set to closely monitor the central bank's monetary policy decisions at around 12:45 p.m. London time.

Elsewhere, European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU should consider offering the U.K. a "flexible" delay to Brexit of up to a year.

His comments come ahead of an emergency summit in Brussels, where leaders are set to decide whether to offer Britain another delay to the Brexit process.

The U.K. is currently due to leave the EU at 11:00 p.m. London time on Friday.



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