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European Shares Look Set To Slip Ahead Of ECB Meeting


European stocks may open lower on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve lifted short-term interest rate a quarter percentage point and forecast two additional rate hikes this year, citing a strengthening economy.

The U.S. dollar failed to rally, helping lift gold prices higher while oil prices held steady after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a new report the oil market still faces serious supply risks from the potential losses from Venezuela and Iran.

Asian stock markets turned lower after media reports suggested the Trump administration is preparing to proceed with tariffs on Chinese goods.

Focus now turns to ECB rate decision and press conference later in the day, with investors expecting a clear signal on whether the central bank will end the bond buying program by the end of the year.

On the data front, Japan's industrial production increased more than initially estimated in April, while Chinese industrial output, retail sales and fixed investment figures for May came in below estimates.

U.K. house price balance improved more than expected in May, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said. The house price balance rose to -3 percent from -7 percent in April. The expected level was -5 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fell slightly as trade war fears resurfaced and the Fed signaled more aggressive pace of rate hikes.

The Dow slid half a percent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.4 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.1 percent.

European markets ended Wednesday's session on a lackluster note as the Fed decision loomed and debate on the Brexit bill continued in the House of Commons.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.2 percent. The German DAX gained 0.4 percent, while France's CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended nearly unchanged.

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