VIENNA (Alliance News) - European stocks are seen opening on a steady note, tracking firmer Asian cues after minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve showed officials are in no hurry to raise interest rates. Energy stocks, however, may come under selling pressure as US crude futures extended declines for a 10th consecutive session on signs Libya will boost oil exports.
The minutes of the Fed's June meeting showed that the central bank plans to completely unwind its asset purchase plan with a USD10 billion reduction at the next two meetings followed by a final reduction of USD15 billion in October as long the economy continues to pick up. However, the minutes kept a dovish tone giving few signals about when the Fed might potentially begin raising interest rates from the current near-zero levels.
Asian stocks are trading mostly higher, although gains were capped following mixed trade data out of China, disappointing jobs figures from Australia and core machinery data from Japan.
Closer home, house prices in the UK continued to rise in June, albeit at a slower pace, a survey showed. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' monthly house price balance fell to 53 from a downwardly revised 56 in May. The June reading is the lowest score since March 2013.
Investors await UK trade data for May and the European Central Bank's monthly report later in the day for further clues on the ECB's stance on the euro and interest rates. The Bank of England's interest rate decision is due at 7:00 am ET, with economists expecting the central bank to leave its key interest rate at a record low of 0.50% and the asset purchase program at 375 billion pounds.
The US economic calendar is light, with investors awaiting reports on weekly jobless claims and wholesale inventories for further indications of an improving US economic outlook. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George will deliver a speech on the US economy and monetary policy before a business and community leaders in Shawnee.
In domestic corporate news, the European Commission said that it has imposed fines totaling 427.7 million euros on the French pharmaceutical company Servier and five other generic drug makers, including Mylan Inc.'sMatrix and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for blocking the entry of cheaper generic versions aimed at protecting Servier's bestselling blood pressure medicine, perindopril.
Russian telecom operator Open Joint Stock Company MegaFon said that it has completed the acquisition of a 50% stake in Euroset Holding N.V., the largest wireless equipment retailer in Russia.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said its interleukin-17A or IL-17A inhibitor secukinumab met all primary and key secondary endpoints at Week 12 in two pivotal phase III studies - ERASURE and FIXTURE.
German sugar producer Suedzucker AG reported first-quarter consolidated group revenues of 1.773 billion euros, down from 1.979 billion euros last year.
Fraport AG said it has welcomed 5.6 million passengers at its Frankfurt Airport in June 2014, a 3.3% improvement from a year earlier.
The major European markets ended on a mixed note Wednesday, as investors awaited cues from the earnings season and the FOMC minutes released after the market close. The German DAX and France's CAC 40 rose about 0.4% each, while the FTSE 100 of the UK dropped 0.3%.
US stocks rebounded from a two-day sell-off overnight, as investors cheered better than expected quarterly results from Alcoa and minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve detailing how the central bank will end its easy monetary policy. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose about half a percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.6%.