European stocks are poised for a firm start on Thursday, after China's Premier Wen Jiabao reportedly said the economy is still facing big downside pressure and there was room for "monetary loosening."
With inflation easing and economic problems persisting, there's "growing room for monetary policy operations" state media reports quoted Wen as saying. The statement increased expectations that the People's Bank of China would either lower banks' reserve requirement ratio or benchmark interest rates.
Investors also await action from the European Central Bank to tackle the region's debt crisis. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday that the European Union and ECB are ready to act on the continent's debt crisis once certain conditions are met.
Asian stocks and commodities are turning in a mixed performance after overnight data showed the U.S. economy is recovering, albeit at a slower pace. A report showing stagnant consumer prices in July increased bets that the U.S. Fed will launch new programs to boost economic growth.
In domestic corporate news, Spanish bank Banco Santander S.A. is looking to raise as much as $4 billion in an initial public offering for part of its Mexican subsidiary Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB, according to a Bloomberg report.
Citing data from two Phase III clinical trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Belgian biopharmaceutical company ThromboGenics N.V. said that eye treatment experimental drug Ocriplasmin showed improved vision when compared to placebo in elderly patients needing risky eye surgery to cure symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion.
Zurich Insurance Group AG reported second-quarter net income after tax attributable to shareholders of $1.075 billion, down from $1.331 billion in the year-ago quarter.
GAGFAH S.A. reported second-quarter funds from operations of 42.9 million euros or 0.21 euro per share compared to 31.4 million euros or 0.14 euro per share last year.
The major European averages ended mostly lower on Wednesday after reports suggested that Greece will seek a two-year extension of its austerity program agreement with its lenders. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks edged down marginally and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, slid 0.2 percent.
Around Europe, France's CAC 40 edged down marginally and the German DAX shed 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 retreated half a percent, while Switzerland's SMI gained 0.1 percent, driven by strength in shares of heavyweight Novartis.
U.S. stocks turned in another lackluster performance overnight, extending the sideways move seen over the past week, with a mixed batch of economic data on regional manufacturing, industrial production, homebuilder confidence and consumer prices weighing on the markets. The Dow and the S&P 500 ended narrowly mixed, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose half a percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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