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European Shares Inch Higher Ahead Of ECB Decision

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European stocks inched higher on Thursday as U.S. Treasury yields steadied amid bets that U.S. inflation may have peaked.

Investors await the outcome of an ECB policy meeting and President Christine Lagarde's press conference later in the day for cues on the path of monetary policy. No change in interest rates is expected despite surging inflation.

The central bank is set to unveil the outcome of its governing council meeting in Frankfurt, at 7.45 am ET, and Lagarde holds press conference at 8.30 am ET.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.1 percent to 457.30 after ending flat with a positive bias the previous day.

The German DAX inched up 0.1 percent and France's CAC 40 index rose 0.3 percent while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down about 0.1 percent, hit by a stronger pound amid speculation the Bank of England will raise rates again in May.

Travel and leisure stocks were moving higher, with low-cost airline Wizz Air climbing more than 7 percent on signs of encouraging summer bookings.

Italian airport and motorway operator Atlantia jumped 5 percent after Italy's Benetton family and U.S. investment fund Blackstone said they will spend up to 12.7 billion euros ($14 billion) to take the company private.

Voestalpine AG, an Austrian steel-based technology group, gained 1.8 percent after it inked a deal with steel major ArcelorMittal to sell 80 percent of its stake in Voestalpine Texas Holding LLC. Shares of the latter were up 1.7 percent.

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson plunged 7.4 percent after a warning that it would likely be fined by U.S. regulators for its handling of a bribery investigation in Iraq.

Standard Chartered advanced 1.1 percent in London. The lender said it would exit onshore operations in several Africa and Middle East markets.

German auto major Volkswagen AG fell nearly 2 percent after releasing preliminary financial key figures for the first quarter of 2022.

Publicis Groupe shares were down about 1 percent. The French advertising holding company, which owns agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Zenith, said it took a loss of about $94 million as a result of its exit from Russia operations.

Birkin bag maker Hermes added 1.5 percent after its quarterly sales beat estimates, despite headwinds.

Drägerwerk AG & Co. KGaA shares plummeted almost 10 percent. The German company reported that preliminary net sales for the first quarter of 2022 declined to 649.5 million euros from last year's 792.1 million euros.

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