(Alliance News) - European stock markets are set for an opening with no clear direction Thursday as investors cautiously await another set of key economic data for the United States, led by the February producer price index.

On the monetary policy front, in the CME Group platform FedWatch Tool, using futures also based on the actual federal funds rate, or EFFR, the rate confirmation in the March 20 meeting has a 99 percent probability for the 525/550 bp range confirmation.

The 25 bps drop in the 500/525 bps target is therefore priced at less than 1%.

For May, the cut is priced at 7 percent, while for the June meeting, futures indicate about 64 percent.

Thus, the FTSE Mib, after closing in the green by 0.4 percent at 33,885.43 last night, is giving up 15.00 points.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 is advancing just above par, Frankfurt's DAX 40 is advancing 8.30 points, and Paris' CAC 40 is just below par.

Among the smaller lists last night, the Mid-Cap gained 0.4 percent to 47,004.20, the Small-Cap gave up 0.1 percent to 27,625.21, and Italy Growth closed down 0.2 percent to 8,064.07.

On the Mib last night, Leonardo did best of all, in the green by 3.5 percent. The company led the Milan list and "aims for new highs, the day after the approval of 2023 results. Revenues and orders for 2024 are solid, and the defense and security electronics segment continues to drive all the Italian public giant, controlled by the Treasury with a 30 percent stake," wrote Alliance News columnist Francesco Bonazzi.

"The first industrial plan presented by CEO Roberto Cingolani, a plan that goes up to 2028, has evidently pleased the market also because it envisages new alliances, as well as strengthening on European cooperation and warplanes."

"Leonardo intends to continue the alliance with Knds and Mbt for the land sector and with Fincantieri, today traded at EUR0.58 with a 0.17 percent upside, with which it is working in the Orizzonte Sistemi Navali joint venture and in diving. On the space front, on the other hand, forward with programs that see Leonardo engaged with the French Thales, while a new dedicated division is born."

Azimut also rose, up 3.0 percent, preceded by Eni, which closed the podium with a 2.0 percent gain. The company announced Wednesday that it had purchased 706,279 of its own ordinary shares for a total value of EUR10.2 million.

With these purchases, the Six-legged Dog concluded its share buyback program and, as of today, holds 181.7 million of its own shares, or 5.4 percent of its share capital.

Among the bearers was ERG, which sat on the bottom, giving up 4.9 percent. The company reported Wednesday that reported group net income was EUR179 million compared with EUR379 million in 2022. The adjusted one from continuing operations was EUR226 million compared to EUR129 million in 2022. The board proposed a dividend of EUR1.00 per share, confirming the previous year's amount.

In 2023, adjusted revenues were EUR741 million, up from 2022 when they were EUR714 million, "thanks to the contribution from the acquisitions made in the second half of 2022 and 2023, the entry into operation of the parks developed internally and entered into operation as of the second half of 2022 and the improved windiness experienced during the period in all geographies, partly offset by sharply declining market prices all countries," the story circulated reads.

On the cadet segment, Tod's rose 0.1 percent after reporting Tuesday that it ended 2023 with revenues up 12 percent year-on-year to EUR1.13 billion from EUR1.01 billion in 2022.

Diego Della Valle, chairman and CEO of the group, said, "These numbers confirm the goodness of the strategy we are following to make our products increasingly special, of great quality and very desirable. The coming years will see us committed to the consolidation of individual brands, and also for this reason we felt it strategically important to share this project with the L Catterton fund by taking the group off the stock exchange, an institution with which we have always had excellent relations."

Fincantieri - in the green by 0.3 percent - and the Qatari Navy announced Tuesday that they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Doha with the aim of engaging in a dialogue leading to new contracts for the provision of state-of-the-art education and training courses for Qatari Navy personnel.

The board of MARR -- the fourth-best stock with a 3.4 percent asset -- on Wednesday approved the 2023 annual financial statements today, reporting a consolidated net profit of EUR47.1 million, which compares with EUR26.6 million in 2022, which was "affected by higher net financial expenses of EUR9.7 million due to the increase in the cost of money as of the second half of 2022," the company wrote in the note.

The board proposed a gross dividend of EUR0.60 per share compared to EUR0.38 in the previous year.

The MARR group ended 2023 with total consolidated revenues at EUR2.08 billion with a growth of EUR155.0 million compared to EUR1.93 billion in 2022.

Reply did better than all by rising 6.3 percent after announcing Wednesday that it had approved results for fiscal year 2023, which closed with a profit of EUR186.7 million, down from EUR191.0 million as of Dec. 31, 2022. The company announced that a dividend of EUR1 per share was approved, confirming the 2022 dividend. Consolidated sales stood at EUR2.12 billion from EUR1.89 billion in 2022.

Among smallcaps, Fiera Milano stood out, rising 5.9 percent after approving the draft financial statements for fiscal year 2023, which closed with a net profit of EUR45.5 million, marking a sharp turnaround from the minus EUR5.8 million recorded in 2022.

The board proposed an ex-dividend of EUR0.14 per share. This had been missing since 2020 and was EUR0.13 per share.

Consolidated revenues in 2023 stood at EUR283.8 million, putting it 29 percent higher than the previous year and surpassing the revenues reported in 2019, confirming that Fiera Milano has surpassed pre-pandemic levels ahead of Italian market expectations.

Mondo TV rose 4.4 percent after announcing Tuesday the renewal of its partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery Italia through the extension of the rights to MeteoHeroes Sr1, a series sold in more than 130 countries.

CY4Gate - in the red by 1.6 percent - announced Wednesday that it has been awarded a contract on decision intelligence with a foreign institutional client worth EUR850,000 for a one-year term.

Among SMEs, Deodato.Gallery--not affected by trading--reported Tuesday that the board approved a capital increase to service a convertible bond.

The aucap will be EUR1.0 million, servicing 2.0 million convertible bonds worth EUR0.50 each.

Neosperience gave up 3.0 percent after announcing Wednesday the launch of Neosperience Pulse, a solution that harnesses the power of the Digital Twin with generative artificial intelligence.

In New York, the Dow rallied 0.1 percent, the Nasdaq gave up 0.5 percent, and the S&P 500 closed down 0.2 percent.

Among Asian exchanges, the Hang Seng is marking a red 0.8 percent, the Shanghai Composite is edging 0.2 percent, while the Nikkei picked up 0.3 percent.

Among currencies, the euro changes hands at USD1.0940 against USD1.9043 recorded in Wednesday's European stock close, while the pound is worth USD1.2797 from USD1.2794 on Wednesday evening.

Brent crude is worth USD84.22 per barrel versus USD83.69 per barrel at Wednesday's close. Gold, meanwhile, trades at USD2,167.85 an ounce from USD2,177.75 an ounce on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday's macroeconomic calendar, the IEA monthly report is due at 1000 CET. An hour later China releases data on new mortgages and M2 money supply.

At 1330 CET it is the turn of the US producer price index, retail sales and continuing unemployment claims.

At 1330 CET in Canada, manufacturing sales are published and at 1445 CET the German non-seasonally adjusted current account.

Among the companies listed in Piazza Affari, results are expected from Brunello Cucinelli, Elica, Safilo Group, Tamburi Investment Partners, and Webuild, among others.

By Maurizio Carta, Alliance News reporter

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