Investing.com – European stock markets are seen edging higher at the open Thursday, helped by another record close on Wall Street after the Federal Reserve reaffirmed its commitment to an ultra-easy monetary policy.
Overnight, the broad-based S&P 500 index closed 0.2% higher on Wall Street at a new record close while moves in Asia have also been largely upward, creating a positive handover for European markets.
This tone has been largely based on the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting, during which the U.S. central bank kept its accommodative policy in place.
The minutes indicated that while Fed officials saw the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, recovering quickly, there was much more progress needed before low interest rates and the pace of asset purchases are changed.
European markets could also be helped by the announcements from the U.K. and European medicines regulators on Wednesday that the benefits of taking the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) Covid-18 vaccine still outweigh the risks, while suggesting age restrictions, even if there is a potential link between the shot and very rare occurrences of blood clotting issues.
Continental Europe is still struggling with a third wave of Covid-19 cases, with authorities in several Spanish regions tightening mobility restrictions on Wednesday to rein in a rising infection rate.
In corporate news, Swiss banking giant UBS (SIX:UBSG) holds its annual general meeting, which will generate some interest after rival Credit Suisse’s recent difficulties with its dealing with Archegos hedge fund.
Additionally, Swedish-Swiss electrical equipment retailer ABB (ST:ABB) has announced a new share buyback plan, and British online fashion retailer ASOS (LON:ASOS) said earnings per share tripled in the six months through February. Homeware retailer Dunelm (LON:DNLM) also reported, saying it expects full-year profit to be above the top end of the current range of analyst forecasts.
Oil prices weakened Thursday after a sharp rise in U.S. gasoline stocks raised concerns about demand growth for crude in the world’s largest consumer.
U.S. crude stocks fell by 3.5 million barrels last week, according to official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration released late Wednesday, but it was the rise of 4 million barrels in gasoline inventories, against expectations of a decline, that had the most impact on the market.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.7% lower at $59.37 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.6% to $62.77.