Europe close: Shares dip as ECB keeps policy 'steady' but says there are still downside risks
European shares were mostly lower on Thursday remained as the single currency gained altitude following the European Central Bank's policy meeting.
ECB chief Christine Lagarde concede that downside risks to the outlook remained but staff forecasts for GDP growth of around 4% in 2021 and 2022 remained "broadly valid".
So while the ECB's governing council was ready too ease policy further if needed, so too it was possible that the full €1.85trn envelope for its emergency pandemic asset purchase programme might not be utilised.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended up 0.01% at 410.89, but the FTSE Mibtel was down 0.98% to 22,428.93 and Spain's Ibex 35 by 1.0% at 8,122.1.
In parallel, euro/dollar was up 0.37% at 1.2151 and the yield on the benchmark 10-year Bund was up three basis points to -0.49%.
Also possibly helping the euro, some analysts, like those at Nomura, were already looking out to the following week, when the European Medicines Agency was expected to 'green light' the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca-Oxford University with late stage clinical trial results for other vaccine possibly also in the pipeline.
Stateside, President Joe Biden announced 17 executive actions, including 15 executive orders, in his first hours in office, including reversing the Muslim travel ban, halting the construction of the US-Mexico border wall and mandated the wearing of masks and social distancing in federal buildings.
"It appears that Biden isn’t messing around. And it is exactly this purposeful and robust approach the markets were hoping for – especially if it leads to his $1.9trn Covid-19 stimulus package escaping the Senate unscathed," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
Investors were also keeping an eye on the European Central Bank's first meeting of the year and US jobless claims later in the day, with analysts guiding for a fall to 935,000 from 965,000.
In corporate news, Sage Group shares were up 5% after the company said it traded in line with expectations in the first quarter as the business software group's recurring revenue grew strongly.
Tool maker Sandvik edged up 0.14% after the firm reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings.
Spanish cellphone mast operator Cellnex was higher after announcing its intention to combine its tower business in the Netherlands with that of Deutsche Telekom.
Deutsche Telekom initially gained on the back of the news but latter surrendered those gains.
Elsewhere in Spain, Bankinter rose 4.1% despite posting a 42% fall in annual profits.