European Stocks Flat; BP Impresses Ahead of Fed Meeting

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Investing.com – European stock markets traded largely unchanged Tuesday, with investors focussing on earnings from blue-chip companies like HSBC and BP (NYSE:BP) ahead of the start of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting. 

At 3:50 AM ET (0850 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded largely unchanged, the CAC 40 in France was flat and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.1%.

Trading ranges have been tight in European stock markets Tuesday, with many investors stuck to the sidelines ahead of the latest Fed meeting.

The U.S. central bank is widely expected to keep rates on hold and asset purchases unchanged, but investors will pay close attention to comments from Chairman Jerome Powell, particularly regarding inflation.

Ahead of that, the focus has been on the European corporate earnings season.

BP (LON:BP) stock rose 2%, dragging the oil & gas sector higher, after the U.K. oil major’s profit soared in the first quarter to $2.6 billion thanks to stronger oil prices and windfall profits in gas trading. As previously indicated, the  energy company is to resume share buybacks in the third quarter, confident in its ability to generate free cash flow at oil prices above $45 a barrel.

HSBC (LON:HSBA) stock climbed 0.7% after Europe’s largest bank by assets reported a 79% rise in first-quarter profit, as an improved economic outlook allowed it to release cash set aside against bad loans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

By contrast, UBS (SIX:UBSG) stock fell 2.6% as the world’s largest wealth manager’s results were hurt by a $774 million hit from the default of U.S. investment firm Archegos.

Schneider Electric (PA:SCHN) stock rose 1.7% after the French energy group raised its full-year guidance after reporting a 12% rise in first-quarter revenue, while Whitbread (LON:WTB) stock slumped 3% as the U.K.-based hospitality giant reported an annual loss of about $1.4 billion after Covid-19 curbs crimped all major travel in Britain for most of 2020.

Oil prices edged higher Tuesday, but gains have been capped by growing concerns over the impact on demand for fuel given the surge in Covid-19 cases in India, the third-largest crude importer in the world.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.9% higher at $62.45 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.9% to $65.62.

The main monitoring committee of OPEC and its allies meets virtually later Tuesday to discuss policy on production after its technical experts projected a strong recovery in global oil demand this year. However, they also noted that the outlook was clouded by resurgent coronavirus cases, primarily in India.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,778.55/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.2072.

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