Europe Markets: European stocks advance as central banks grab the spotlight

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Europe’s main stock gauge rose modestly Thursday, adding to its weekly gain as traders waited for moves by three central banks.

What are markets doing?

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, +0.30%  tacked on 0.3% to 378.22, after Wednesday’s gain of 0.5%.

The pan-European gauge is showing a drop of 2.8% for the year to date.

Germany’s DAX 30 DAX, +0.61%  gained 0.6% to 12,104.78, while France’s CAC 40 PX1, +0.37%  added 0.4% to 5,351.79. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, -0.19%  bucked the positive trend, pulling back 0.2% to 7,299.76.

The euro EURUSD, -0.0860%  dipped to $1.1616, down slightly from $1.1627 late Wednesday in New York, while the pound GBPUSD, +0.0690%  bought $1.3051, little changed from $1.3048.

What is driving the market?

The European Central Bank, Bank of England and Turkey’s central bank are set to announce policy decisions within an hour of each other on Thursday, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Eastern Time (noon and 1 p.m. London time).

Europe’s two most prominent central banks are expected to signal caution, while Turkey’s institution could act vigorously to tame soaring inflation.

Check out: Case for dollar bulls intact ahead of central bank meetings

Investors also continue to track the trade-related tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies. There is some optimism after a report late Wednesday that the Trump administration is giving Beijing another chance to try to stave off new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese exports. It’s asking for a fresh round of trade talks later this month.

Don’t miss: 5 things about a U.S.-China trade war that might surprise investors

In addition, European markets have been sensitive to Brexit-related news. The pound has been drawing buyers this week as traders become more optimistic that a deal on the U.K.’s exit from the European Union could be reached soon. It’s up 1% against the dollar so far this week.

See: How a “no-deal Brexit” could play out for U.K. stocks

What are strategists saying?

“My expectations are actually quite low for the meetings,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.

The ECB and BOE “both have made important first steps towards normalization and are in no rush,” Erlam added. “With Brexit on the horizon, now is not a good time to be changing course, especially as they don’t have to.”

Don’t miss: A top London startup’s CEO flags the biggest Brexit threat to his industry

Stock movers

Shares in Natixis KN, +4.16%  jumped 4% after the French bank raised its guidance and said it was planning the sale of retail businesses.

On the downside, Delivery Hero AG’s stock DHER, +1.36%  fell 7% after the food-ordering company posted first-half results.

See: Delivery Hero’s stock has served up tasty gains — how to play it

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