European stocks cautious as global markets await U.S. inflation data, ECB meeting – CNBC

LONDON — European stocks were mixed on Thursday morning as global markets gear up for the latest inflation reading from the U.S.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 hovered around the flatline by late morning trade, with travel and leisure stocks dipping 1.4% while banks added 0.7%.

Global markets are predominantly focused on the U.S. inflation data due out Thursday, which could be crucial in shaping the Federal Reserve’s schedule for raising interest rates or tapering its asset purchase program.

Shares in Asia-Pacific edged higher in Thursday’s trade and futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes were mixed in early premarket trade.

The Labor Department is scheduled to publish its consumer price index data at 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect the May CPI report to show prices up 4.7% year over year after April’s increase of 4.2%.

The Federal Reserve has been trying to gauge if higher price pressures are just temporary as the economy continues to rebound from the pandemic-induced recession.

For weeks, investors have been worried whether a rash of inflation could prompt the Fed to curb the pace of its asset purchases or begin to signal an increase to interest rates. Still, some say those fears are premature and that the central bank will give markets plenty of time before it makes any moves.

Investors in Europe are also gearing up for the next meeting of the European Central Bank on Thursday, with most expecting the central bank to keep its foot on the stimulus pedal.

Many believe the ECB will keep to its current path due to an uncertain economic outlook and to avoid an unwanted tightening of financial conditions.

Read more: European Central Bank expected to keep stimulus flowing despite inflation concerns

At Thursday’s meeting, the ECB will also update its quarterly staff projections for inflation and growth, alongside its traditional rate decision and press conference. The interest rate decision is announced at 12:45 pm London time.

In other news, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden on Thursday ahead of the start of the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall that begins on Friday.

In terms of individual share price movement, British car trading service Auto Trader climbed 6.9% after a strong earnings report.

BT‘s share price on the London Stock Exchange is up almost 3% after French telco Altice said it was taking a 12% stake in the company.

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– CNBC’s Thomas Franck and Annette Weisbach contributed to this market report.