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11 Mar 2021 | 08:15

Europe open: Shares make wary start to session ahead of ECB meeting

(Sharecast News) - European shares rose slightly at the open on Thursday after Congress approved the $1.9trn Covid stimulus package with investors keeping a wary eye on a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.25% by 0849 GMT, with all but Germany's DAX higher on regional bourses ahead of the ECB decision at 1245 GMT.

"While the markets survived Wednesday's inflation obstacle, there is still pressure on Christine Lagarde's ECB to reassure investors over the issue. That, as well as investors' concerns surrounding the sluggish vaccine rollout in the bloc and the smatterings of fresh covid-19 outbreaks across the region," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

"Looking ahead and the Dow Jones looks ready to step in and gee the European markets up when the bell rings on Wall Street. At this point, a 0.3% increase still equates to a 100 point rise for the Dow, one that would push it beyond 32,400 for the first time in its history."

"It is going to be interesting to see in the coming weeks what the Dow and the rest of the US markets focus on next, now that Biden's stimulus package has been passed. In other words, how long the post-Plan honeymoon period will last, and how quickly investors will find a new cause du jour."

In equity news, Rolls-Royce inched up 1.1% as the aircraft engine-maker stuck to its forecast to burn through less cash this year after posting a worse-than-expected 2020 loss of £4bn.

German fashion house Hugo Boss shares fell 3% after the company said it expected coronavirus restrictions to keep weighing on its business in the first quarter.

WPP shares were slightly higher after the advertising giant a bigger-than-expected loss of £2.97bn, after writing down £3.1bn in a significant revaluation of large parts of its business.

Management also announced the resumption of the share buyback program as well as a 14p final dividend, while reiterating full year guidance for 2021.
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