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Europe open: Shares lower ahead of ECB rate decision; IG Group slumps

(Sharecast News) - European shares opened lower on Thursday as investors awaited the latest rate decision from the European Central Bank later in the day. The pan-regional Stoxx 600 index was dow 0.16% at 476.33, with most regional bourses lower. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat.

The ECB is expected to hold interest rates at current record levels after its monetary policy meeting. Members of the bank's board have gone out of their way in recent weeks to dampen expectations of early rate cuts as persistent inflation hampers the pace of economic recovery.

"Policymakers at the European Central Bank are expected to sit on their hands and keep interest rates on hold, and an immobile stance through the year looks increasingly likely, given some of their recent comments," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter.

"Investors will be highly attuned to the latest assessment of inflation and growth prospects from (ECB) President Christine Lagarde."

"Even though there has been a rapid slowdown in price increases, and weakness is pervading economies, the ECB is concerned that underlying price pressures in services remain strong and the effect of the Red Sea diversions on goods has not yet played out."

In equity news, shares in Nokia jumped after the telecoms giant said it would start a two-year €600m share buyback this quarter, despite posting plunging profit in 2023. #

Online trading platform IG Group slumped as it reported a drop in interim revenues and profits, citing "softer market conditions" and a strong comparative period.

Wizz Air fell after the budget airline reported a bigger third-quarter operating loss, due to engine inspections that have grounded parts of its fleet and the suspension of flights in response to the Middle East conflict.

Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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