European markets seen higher, ECB meeting in focus

European bourses are expected to open higher on Thursday, supported by a surge in global stocks, as investors eye a new rate decision by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The FTSE 100 is seen 22 points higher at 7,439; the German DAX is expected to open up 36 points at 12,474; the French CAC is seen 15 points higher at 5,221.

Looking at individual stocks, Swiss engineering firm ABB reported a weaker-than-anticipated increase in quarterly net profits on Thursday amid overcapacity problems and higher raw materials prices.

Unilever reported marginally weaker-than-expected quarterly sales on Thursday, as the firm looked to recover from the fallout of a spurned $143 billion takeover bid earlier this year.

The euro was steady at $1.1515 on Thursday morning, ahead of the ECB meeting later in the session. The single currency had spiked to 14-month highs this week on the back of apparently hawkish comments by ECB President Mario Draghi.

The ECB is not expected to adjust interest rates on Thursday but it is projected to signal plans to slow down some of its asset purchases over the next few months.

Meanwhile, the second round of formal Brexit talks are set to continue on Thursday as negotiators from the EU and the U.K. meet in Brussels. Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis is expected to speak at a press conference later in the session.

Earlier in the trading day, the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged after its two-day meeting. However, the central bank slashed its inflation forecasts for the financial year years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.

U.S. stocks closed at record highs on Wednesday as investors digested better-than-expected earnings. Source: CNBC