European stocks struggled for direction on Wednesday as investors awaited the Federal Reserve's minutes from its latest meeting and Nvidia's earnings.

Firmer-than-expected inflation and jobs data encouraged Fed officials to indicate rate cuts were unlikely to begin in March. Analysts expect the new minutes to reflect that stance.

London's FTSE 100 was down 0.7%, easily underperforming European indexes as heavyweight stocks fell sharply following earnings.

Shares on the Move

Glencore posted a miss for Ebitda forecasts and, as expected, didn't announce a top-up of capital return as it is retaining cash for the Elk Valley Resources acquisition, Jefferies said. Shares were down 5.6%.

HSBC shares were the FTSE 100's worst performer in morning trade after the Asia-focused lender posted disappointing fourth-quarter results.

Stocks to Watch

Orsted will remain an industry leader in offshore wind, even after presenting a slimmed-down version of its strategic plan, Berenberg said, keeping its buy rating and DKK450 price target, implying 15% upside to the current price.

"We believe Orsted can successfully deliver this new plan under a more stable balance sheet. Recent share performance indicates increased investor confidence."

U.S. Markets:

Stock futures pointed lower ahead of Nvidia's fourth-quarter earnings report and the Fed minutes.

Stocks to Watch will be added to the DJIA at the start of trading Monday, replacing Walgreens Boots Alliance. It's the first change in the blue-chip index since 2020. Amazon rose 1.3% in premarket trading while Walgreens declined 2.9%.

Nvidia was down 1.7% as investors prepared for the earnings report scheduled for after the closing bell.


The euro should stay within a tight range against the dollar this week owing to a lack of major market-moving events, Danske Bank Research said, though it maintains a bias to sell EUR/USD on rallies.

The Fed minutes at 1900 GMT could "provide interesting insights," Danske said, adding that it expects a first interest-rate cut in May and two further cuts in 2024.

On Thursday, eurozone and U.S. PMI data will be watched for signs of any rebound in global manufacturing.

MUFG said the dollar has slipped since last week's stronger-than-expected U.S. inflation data, failing to build on gains, and is now at the bottom of its recent range ahead of the Fed minutes at 1900 GMT.

The DXY dollar index is "testing support from the bottom of the recent narrow trading range between 104.00 and 105.00 after it hit a low yesterday of 103.80," MUFG said.

Since the last Fed meeting, U.S. money markets have pushed back the expected timing of a first rate cut to June. The minutes shouldn't significantly alter those expectations, though "an earlier rate cut in May is unlikely to be ruled out."

Central and Eastern European currencies have received support from a reversal of the dollar's recent strength, while the Polish zloty and the Hungarian forint have also been supported by political headlines, UniCredit Research said.


Bond markets have continued to stabilize in the absence of major news, led by the front-end of the Treasury curve, Commerzbank Research said.

"Today's agenda holds little headline risks to derail the momentum and we expect that the recovery from the yield highs in Bunds has legs."

Wednesday's government bond supply in the eurozone will come from Germany which auctions EUR4.5 billion in February 2034 Bunds, while Luxembourg is likely to go ahead with a 10-year bond syndication, for which Commerzbank Research estimates a EUR1.25 billion issue volume.

The average green premium on eurozone government bonds is currently in line with its one-year average, but the magnitude of greeniums might differ significantly from bond to bond and supply pressure plays a key role, UniCredit Research said.

UniCredit also said Eurozone governments issued EUR13 billion in green bonds in January, accounting for roughly 20% of the amount expected for 2024.


Oil prices edged down on the prospect of higher-for-longer interest rates and a weaker demand outlook, despite heightened tensions in the Middle East.

The dollar's pullback was offering some relief to prices but investors' focus in now on the Fed minutes for more cues on rate-cut plans this year.

"Commodities have recently closely followed the swings in market pricing of Fed cuts," Goldman Sachs said.

The Fed has pushed back expectations of early cuts after a hotter-than-expected inflation report earlier this month, a prospect that would weigh on demand and put downward pressure on prices.


Base metals made gains on sanction speculation while gold was broadly flat.

Aluminum was up almost 2% following reports of a plan for a new wave of U.S. sanctions against Russia, ING said.

While President Biden didn't specify which industries would be affected in the sanctions package, set to be unveiled Friday, this has left the market speculating Russia's metal industries might be targeted, ING added.

So far, the U.K. is the only European country to ban individuals and entities from physical metals trading from Russia.


BAE Systems Forecasts Another Year of Sales Growth Amid Geopolitical Tensions

BAE Systems said it expects sales and earnings will continue to grow as governments ramp up spending on military equipment amid escalating geopolitical tensions after key metrics last year beat analysts' expectations.

The U.K. defense-and-aerospace group said Wednesday that sales should grow 10% to 12% in 2024 compared with 25.28 billion pounds ($31.91 billion) that BAE reported for 2023. This compares with analysts' estimates of GBP24.75 billion for last year, according to a company-compiled forecast, and GBP23.26 billion in 2022.

Rio Tinto Annual Net Profit Down 19%, Dividend Pared on Commodity-Price Fall

Rio Tinto reported a 19% decline in annual net profit and trimmed its total payout to shareholders following a drop in prices of aluminum, which has been buffeted by weak demand in the U.S. and Europe.

The world's second-biggest miner by market value said Wednesday that it made a net profit of $10.06 billion in 2023. That was down from profit of $12.39 billion in 2022.

Ukraine's Military Spy Chief Says Russia Will Struggle to Keep Up the Fight

KYIV, Ukraine-Russia's capture of the east Ukrainian city of Avdiivka is the clearest sign yet of a shift in the war's momentum as it approaches its third year.

In an interview Thursday, with Ukraine's withdrawal already under way, Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's military-intelligence chief, acknowledged the tough situation for Ukraine's outnumbered and outgunned forces. But Russia also has problems, he said.


China Quant Fund Suspended as Regulators Tighten Grip on Trading

China's two major stock exchanges have slapped a three-day ban on a large quantitative fund, the latest move by regulators ramping up trading scrutiny as they look to boost a sluggish market.

The quant hedge fund, Ningbo Lingjun Investment Management Partnership, has been barred from trading in the Shenzhen and the Shanghai stock exchanges, according to a statement issued by the two index operators late Tuesday.

U.S. Renewable Power Growth Is Setting New Records on the Back of Federal Support

Power generated from renewable sources of energy is setting new records in the U.S. and is expected to keep growing as wind and solar become the preferred options to replace coal power generation over natural gas.

Nearly a quarter of U.S. electricity demand was supplied by renewable sources in 2023 and just under 9% of total energy used came from green sources, according to a new report from BloombergNEF.

Former FBI Informant Accused of Lying About Bidens Claimed Russian Intelligence Contacts

A former FBI informant accused of making false bribery allegations against President Biden and his son Hunter had "extensive and extremely recent" contacts with foreign intelligence services, including Russia's, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday.

In the 28-page filing, federal prosecutors detailed Alexander Smirnov's contacts with Russian intelligence to argue that he should remain in custody as he confronts an indictment that appeared to undercut corruption allegations that Republicans have long levied against the president. Lawyers for Smirnov, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, said in their filing that the government had seized his U.S. passport, but that he would surrender his Israeli passport and submit to electronic monitoring, among other conditions. A federal magistrate judge ordered his release Tuesday during a detention hearing in Nevada, according to the court docket.

U.S. to Invest Billions to Replace China-Made Cranes at Nation's Ports

WASHINGTON-The Biden administration plans to invest billions in the domestic manufacturing of cargo cranes, seeking to counter fears that the use of China-built cranes with advanced software at many U.S. ports poses a potential national security risk.

The move is part of a set of actions being taken by the administration on Wednesday that is intended to improve maritime cybersecurity. They include a U.S. Coast Guard security directive to mandate certain digital security requirements for currently deployed foreign-built cranes at strategic seaports, as well as an executive order by President Biden setting baseline cybersecurity standards for computer networks that operate U.S. ports.

Write to

Write to us at

We offer an enhanced version of this briefing that is optimized for viewing on mobile devices and sent directly to your email inbox. If you would like to sign up, please go to

This article is a text version of a Wall Street Journal newsletter published earlier today.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-21-24 0537ET