KEY POINTS
  • The Bank of England announces its monetary policy decision at noon London time and is expected to keep its benchmark lending rate and quantitative easing program unchanged for now
  • It’s another busy day for corporate earnings in Europe, with AB InBev, Societe Generale, Air France-KLM, Volkswagen, ING and UniCredit among the blue chip companies reporting.

(CNBC)-European markets were modestly higher on Thursday as investors monitor a slew of corporate earnings and await the latest monetary policy decision from the Bank of England.

TICKER COMPANY NAME PRICE CHANGE %CHANGE VOLUME
.FCHI CAC 40 Index CAC 6368.51 29.04 0.46 10671926
.GDAXI DAX DAX 15252.15 81.37 0.54 9408573
.FTSE FTSE 100 FTSE 7059.30 20.00 0.28 64200121

The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.2% in early trade, with banks, autos and utilities adding 0.8% to lead gains as almsot all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.

Stocks in Europe received a mixed handover from Asia-Pacific, where markets in Japan and South Korea advanced on their return to trading after public holidays, while mainland Chinese shares declined.

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a flat open on Wall Street later on Thursday; the Dow closed out Wednesday’s session at a new record high.

Investors stateside will have an eye on last week’s initial jobless claims figure from the U.S. Labor Department, with economists surveyed by Dow Jones expecting a print of 527,000.

Back in Europe, the Bank of England announces its monetary policy decision at noon London time and is expected to keep its benchmark lending rate and quantitative easing program unchanged for now, while noting that the U.K.’s economic recovery is accelerating, according to Reuters.

On the data front, final U.K. composite PMI (purchasing managers’ index) readings for April are due at 9:30 a.m. London time before March’s euro zone retail sales at 10 a.m.

Investors in the U.K. will also be watching local elections across the country over the next 48 hours along with a crucial Scottish Parliament election, which could raise the prospect of another referendum on Scottish independence from the U.K.

Earnings in focus

It’s another busy day for corporate earnings in Europe, with AB InBev, Societe Generale, Air France-KLM, Volkswagen, ING and UniCredit among the blue chip companies reporting.

Societe Generale reported a “record” quarter for its trading division, helping it smash through analyst expectations for the first three months of 2021. It posted first-quarter net income of 814 million euros ($977 million). SocGen shares climbed 5.6% in early trade.

AB InBev also beat profit expectations to report a 14.2% rise in core earnings. The Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois brewer also announced that CEO Carlos Brito will step down in July to be replaced by North American boss Michel Doukeris. The company’s shares added 3.8%.

Meanwhile Volkswagen raised its margin target after seeing a surge in demand for higher-priced vehicles in the first quarter, sending shares 0.6% higher.

Luxembourgish satellite company SES climbed more than 7% to lead the Stoxx 600 after a strong earnings report which saw the company announce a 100 million euro share buyback program.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Telecom Italia shares fell 6.5% after an Italian media report suggested that the company’s single network plan had been parked.