David Reid, Sam Meredith
European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX
Looking at individual stocks, Switzerland’s Lonza Group slumped toward the bottom of the European benchmark during morning deals. It comes after the drug ingredients maker announced CEO Richard Ridinger would retire in March. Shares of the firm were down 7.3 percent on the news.
Meanwhile, French IT services company Atos surged toward the top of the index, after announcing plans to give investors a special payout in the form of 23.4 percent of shares in its listed payments subsidiary Worldline SA. Shares of the Paris-listed stock rose more than 6.7 percent.
On the data front, economic sentiment in the euro zone fell for the seventh consecutive month in January, slipping to a two-year low. Official data published by the European Commission on Wednesday showed economic sentiment in the bloc slipped to 106.2 points in January, down from 107.4 in December.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that he expected the world’s two largest economies to make significant progress toward a comprehensive trade agreement this week.
However, many market participants remain skeptical about whether the economic giants can bridge differences over a number of issues, including intellectual property rights and technology transfers.
Investors are also looking to the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s rate review later in the session, amid heightened expectations policymakers at the U.S. central bank will reinforce their dovish stance given signs of an economic slowdown.
In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, was little changed from the previous session on Wednesday.