European markets were flat ahead of policy meetings in the U.K. and in Europe later in the day.
Both the Bank of England and the ECB are expected to keep interest rates on hold although investors expect the ECB could reiterate a possibility of easing policy further if inflation stays too low.
Earlier Thursday, industry data showed the French trade balance fell unexpectedly last month.
A number of reports including consumer confidence, business climate indicator, and German industrial production data are due later in the day from the euro-zone.
In the U.S., minutes of the Fed’s December 17-18 policy meeting released late Wednesday revealed many members of the policy committee were adopting a cautious approach with regard to winding down stimulus measures.
Stocks on the Move
Shares of Tesco PLC, the world’s third biggest retailer, fell about 3% in London after the company reported a significant drop in underlying sales in its main domestic market during the Christmas trading period.
Marks and Spencer edged up 0.1%.
Food Retailer Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC fell over 5% after it reported a like-for-like fall in sales for the Christmas period and said it now expects full-year underlying profit to be at the bottom of the range of current market estimates.
Rolls-Royce was down 0.2%. Bloomberg reported the company is in talks to buy the ship engine unit of Finland’s Wartsila.
French food group Danone SA was down about half a percent after it said it would sue wholesale diary exporter Fonterra and stop buying products from the New Zealand based company following a contamination scare.
Novartis AG was marginally higher. Bloomberg reported the company is in talks with Merck to exchange its animal-health and human vaccines businesses for the drug-maker's over-the-counter health-products unit.
Deutsche Bank declined 0.7%.
Rouhan Sharma does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.