(Alliance News) - European marketplaces opened higher as expected Thursday, following the pause from last night's Federal Reserve rate hikes and awaiting today's decisions by the European Central Bank and Bank of England.

Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the Fed "is catching up to the fact that the credibility of its threats of new hikes has been close to zero in the markets for some time now."

Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics believes the first rate cut is likely to come at next year's March meeting.

"We then expect the Fed to cut 25 basis points at each meeting from March onward, for a cumulative decline of 175 basis points," he added. "We expect the nominal federal funds rate to touch a low between 3.00 percent and 3.25 percent in the first half of 2025.

Shepherdson believes the Fed will cut rates faster than the dot plot suggests.

The FTSE Mib opened up 1.0 percent to 30,601.93, the Mid-Cap gains 1.8 percent to 43,319.59, the Small-Cap rises 1.1 percent to 26,776.80, and Italy Growth is up 0.3 percent to 8,064.83.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 is up 2.0 percent to 7,695.42, Paris' CAC 40 is up 1.4 percent to 7,637.13 and Frankfurt's DAX 40 is up 1.2 percent to 16,971.41.

On the main list in Piazza Affari, except for banks--BPER, BPM, UniCredit, and Monte dei Paschi--declining between 1.7 percent and 3.7 percent at the start, all are up as the bell rings.

Leading the way is Amplifon, thanks to a 4.1 percent rise after signing a binding agreement that will allow the company to enter Uruguay through the acquisition of the Audical Group, the leading national player in the hearing care sector.

The Audical network, with the Audical and Centro Auditivo brands, consists of 25 direct outlets and various distributors throughout the country, has annual sales of about EUR10 million, which have been growing steadily in recent years, and about 130 employees and collaborators.

Also doing well are Interpump Group, up 4.0%, and CNH Industrial, up 4.0% after buying back its own ordinary shares for more than EUR47 million.

Telecom Italia rises 2.1%, recovering after yesterday's decline. However, traders await news on the legal front, with Vivendi - according to rumors - expected to file a lawsuit tomorrow to try to block the sale of the network and Sparkle to the US fund KKR.

On the Mid-Cap, same scenario as in the Mib. Ariston Holding is the talk of the town, up 7.0% at the start, while Brunello Cucinelli also rises well, up 5.3%.

The fashion house announced Wednesday that it expects to end the year with positive results, five days before it debuts on the Italian stock exchange's FTSE Mib.

"After the beautiful results of the nine months and the very interesting growth in October, November and the first part of December, we envision for 2023 a very good growth in revenues, between 22% and 23% at current exchange rates - over EUR1.1 billion -, raising estimates compared to previous expectations of between 20% and 22%, with a very important marginality and profit, within our idea of polite growth and healthy profit," said the founder of the eponymous brand, Brunello Cucinelli.

OVS rises 4.7 percent after it reported last night that net sales for the first nine months of its 2023-2024 fiscal year rose to EUR1.10 billion from EUR1.09 billion year-on-year.

Ebitda in the period ended Oct. 31 showed a slight year-on-year decline to EUR121.5 million from EUR124.1 million.

Operating income fell to EUR73.3 million from EUR79.1 million while pretax income fell to EUR60.0 million from EUR68.8 million, affected by both higher depreciation and amortization of about EUR3 million and higher interest rates, mitigated by the prevalence of the fixed-rate sustainability-linked bond.

Antares Vision plummeted, down 7.5 percent, after Enrico Broli resigned as acting auditor and chairman of the company's board of auditors for health reasons. Alternate sindcao Paolo Belleri also left for the same reason.

Broli will be replaced on the board of auditors by Ramona Corti while the chairmanship of the body will be in the hands of Giancarlo Germani until the next shareholders' meeting.

Among the smallcaps, ePrice rises 7.1 percent and records the best performance of its parent list, with 100,000 pieces changing hands in a few minutes.

On the other side, Bioera's run comes to a halt after the stock doubled in value over the past ten days. The company's shares are down 7.8 percent this morning.

Among SMEs, Deodato.Gallery rises 9.0 percent to lead the list. The company announced this week the start of its partnership with Langosteria, a fine dining group led by Enrico Buonocore.

Langosteria, the statement reads, "is a way of understanding catering born in Italy that constantly aims at excellence, combining tradition with a contemporary and international approach."

Also doing well were Digital Magics, up 7.3 percent, and High Quality Food, up 5.0 percent.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed Thursday down 0.7 percent to 32,686.25, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3 percent to 2,958.99, and the Hang Seng gained 1.1 percent to 16,402.19.

In New York, the Dow closed Wednesday up 1.4 percent to 37,090.24, the Nasdaq rose 1.4 percent to 14,733.96 and the S&P 500 gained 1.4 percent to 4,707.09.

Among currencies, the euro changed hands at USD1.0893 against USD1.0793 recorded in Wednesday's European stock close while the pound is worth USD1.2620 from USD1.2527 last night.

Brent crude is worth USD74.85 per barrel versus USD73.20 per barrel at Wednesday's close. Gold, meanwhile, trades at USD2,034.71 an ounce from USD1,980.52 an ounce last night.

Thursday's macroeconomic calendar includes Spain's inflation, at 0900 CET, and the IEA monthly report, at 1000 CET.

The highlights of the day will be the decisions of the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, which will release their latest monetary policy decisions, before the U.S. retail sales and jobless claims data, due at 1430 CET. For the ECB, the president, Christine Lagarde, will also speak at 1445 CET.

At 1630 CET, focus on U.S. corporate inventories, and at 2230 CET, the focus will be on the balance sheet and reserves at the Fed.

Among the companies in the Piazza Affari, no special events are planned.

By Giuseppe Fabio Ciccomascolo, Alliance News senior reporter

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