European Stocks Close Mixed After Cautious Trade Ahead Of ECB Meeting, US Inflation Data

European stocks closed mixed on Wednesday with traders largely staying wary of building up positions as they looked ahead to upcoming U.S. inflation data and the policy meeting of the European Central Bank for directional clues.

Amid ample chatter about rising inflation, the release of key U.S. consumer inflation data on Thursday may provide some cues on policy tapering.

The ECB is likely to maintain a higher pace of asset purchases for another quarter when it reviews monetary policy on Thursday.

Investors digested the latest batch of economic data from Eurozone, and noted World Bank's global growth forecast, in addition to tracking corporate news.

Reports showing a surge in coronavirus infections in the UK that raised concerns there could be a delay in the wider reopening of the economy weighed on sentiment.

Airline shares moved higher after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.09%. France's CAC 40 advanced 0.19%, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended 0.2% down and Germany's DAX declined 0.38%. Switzerland's SMI climbed 1.13%.

Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Netherlands and Russia ended higher.

Austria, Ireland and Poland drifted lower, while Finland, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey closed flat.

In the UK market, IAG shares gained about 3.25%. AstraZeneca, Smith & Nephew, GlaxoSmithKline, Informa, Just Eat Takeaway, Royal Dutch Shell, Diageo, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Relx, Compass Group and Rolls-Royce Holdings gained 1 to 2.5%.

Thungela Resources shares plunged 9.7%. Persimmon, Renishaw, 3i Group, Evraz, ICP, Legal & General Group, Schroders, Anglo American Group, Barclays Group and BHP Group lost 2 to 3.5%.

In Germany, Lufthansa and Merck both ended higher by nearly 3%. Fresenius, Fresenius Medical Care and MTU Aero Engines posted moderate gains.

Covestro shed more than 3%. Deutsche Bank, Munich RE, HeidelbergCement, BASF and Continental also closed week, albeit with less pronounced losses.

Volkswagen AG shares edged lower after the company announced a contribution of $620 million or about 500 million euros in a financing round of its Swedish battery partner Northvolt AB with a total volume of $2.75 billion.

In France, Unibail Rodamco rallied nearly 6% and Air France-KLM gained about 3.25%. Vinci, Sanofi, Sodexo, WorldLine, Accor and STMicroElectronics also closed higher.

In economic news, data from Destatis showed Germany's exports growth eased in April, rising just 0.3% month-on-month, after a 1.3% increase in March. Economists had forecast a growth of 0.5%.

Imports declined to 1.7% in April, after a 7.1% rise in the previous month. Economists had expected a 1.1% fall.

The trade surplus rose to EUR 15.9 billion in April from EUR 3.5 billion in the previous month. The expected level was EUR 16.3 billion.

On a year-on-year basis, exports accelerated 47.7%, following a 16.3% rise in March and imports rose 33.2% after a 16.2% increase.

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