European stocks choppy as investors await Federal Reserve minutes

Big 5

European stocks traded lower Wednesday after initially opening higher, as investors remain cautious ahead of the closely-watched release of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest minutes.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.47 percent.

Global markets are looking ahead to the release of the minutes from the Fed’s meeting in July for clues on where the central bank might be heading in terms of the timing of interest rate rises. U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday ahead of the release of the minutes, due on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.

The Fed could still raise interest rates twice this year, with a move in September a possibility, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

“I would not rule out September. If the meeting were today, I think the economic data would justify a serious discussion” of whether to raise rates now, Lockhart told reporters after a speech in Knoxville on Tuesday.

In Asia meanwhile, markets traded mixed on Wednesday as the lower finish in the U.S. stock market offset the positive impact of a rise in oil prices in the previous session.

Oil prices fell away from 5-week highs early on Wednesday, however, as analysts doubted a successful outcome from producer talks to rein in ballooning oversupply, Reuters reported.

Carlsberg shares lose fizz

A number of European corporates reported earnings on Wednesday. Danish brewer Carlsberg reported first-half results that missed expectations but key its 2016 outlook, sending shares lower.

Dutch bank ABN Amro was trading higher after it reported a 7 percent rise in second-quarter operating profits which beat analyst expectations.

In the U.K., shares of insurer Admiral fell sharply after the company warned that market volatiltiy around the Brexit vote impacted its solvency ratio. But it also reported a 4 percent year-on-year rise in first half group profit before tax.

Balfour Beatty shares rallied after the construction company reinstated its divided after positive first-half results.

Shares of British pharmaceutical company Indivior were up over 17 percent after the company announced positive results from a trial of a new drug to treat opioid.

In other corporate news, Cobham announced that chief executive Bob Murphy would step down from his role by the end of the year, and will be replaced by David Lockwood, the current head of Laird. Shares of Cobham rallied on the news.

Source: CNBC