European markets head for muted open as investors await ECB decision

LONDON — European stocks are expected to open flat to lower on Thursday with investors focusing on the outcome of the European Central Bank’s next policy meeting as inflation data in the euro zone remains a concern.

The U.K.’s FTSE index is expected to open 2 points lower at 7,586, Germany’s DAX 43 points lower at 15,584, France’s CAC 40 down 19 points at 7,105 and Italy’s FTSE MIB 22 points lower at 27,296, according to data from IG.

Investors will be focusing on the latest monetary policy decision of the European Central Bank on Thursday with the region’s inflation data putting pressure on the central bank to act. Inflation in the euro zone rose to 5.1% in January, despite expectations for a sharp drop to 4.4%.

European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as traders digested a strong set of corporate results. More earnings are on the horizon Thursday, with Shell and Roche among the companies expected to report.

In the U.S. on Wednesday, stocks rose for a fourth-straight day as Alphabet propelled gains in tech thanks to strong quarterly earnings. Earlier in the day, however, new figures showed private payrolls fell by 301,000 in January, well below a Dow Jones estimate for growth of 200,000.

U.S. stock futures fell Wednesday night, as traders pored through the latest batch of corporate earnings, which included disappointing numbers from tech giant Meta Platforms. Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Thursday amid some lingering concerns about global growth and ongoing geopolitical tensions.

Other earnings in focus in Europe on Thursday include Infineon, Siemens Healthineers, ING, BT and ABB. Data releases include euro zone producer prices in December and final purchasing manager’s index (PMI) data from various European countries for January.

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