LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks ceded modest gains Thursday morning ahead of a crunch meeting of eurozone monetary policy makers that investors are looking to for action to spur growth.
By late morning in London, the FTSE 100 had slipped 0.50% to 6,115.82, while in Frankfurt the DAX edged down 0.02% to 9,721.39. The CAC 40 in Paris yielded 0.14% of its value to fall to 4,419.55.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.14%.
The European Central Bank, which will announce its rate decision at 1:45 p.m. Frankfurt time (7:45 a.m. EST) and hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m., is seen likely to push the deposit rate deeper into negative territory from minus 0.3%. It may also expand its monthly bond buying program. Stocks may fall if its eventual action -- or the accompanying commentary from central bank boss Mario Draghi -- falls short of the hoped-for stimulus measures.
Utility Centrica (CPYYY) was up about 1.5% in London after a provisional report by the Competition and Markets Authority into the U.K. energy market came down less heavily than expected on suppliers.
Oil and gas sector-focused engineering group Amec Foster Wheeler (AMFW) jumped close to 8% despite a steep slide in full-year profit as its net debt forecast for year-end and plans to cut borrowings through disposals reassured investors.
Insurer Aviva (AV) jumped 4% after pleasing investors with its capital position under recently implemented Solvency II rules and lifting its dividend by 15%.
In Frankfurt, another insurer, Hannover Rueck (HVRRY) , was up close to 5% after it posted double-digit premium income and net profit growth in 2015 and lifted its dividend payout ratio above its own target range by offering a special dividend alongside the regular payment
But also in Frankfurt, fertilizers producer K + S slumped 6% after missing analysts' revenue and earnings expectations in 2015. For 2016, it predicted a moderate decline in revenue and a significant deterioration in earnings this year. It based its gloomy outlook on various factors, including a downturn in the potash market and a mild winter that had crimped demand for de-icing salt.
Asian stocks were mixed. In Auckland, the S&P/NZ 20 index closed up 0.41% at 4,649.15 after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand unexpectedly cut rates.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.26% to close at 16,852.35 and the Topix closed up 1.49% to 1,352.17. Power producer Kansai Electric Power closed down almost 15% after a court ordered it to close two western Japanese reactors after a petition from group of residents. Kansai said it would challenge the decision.
On mainland China, indices declined, with the CSI 300 composite index closing down 1.91% at 3,013.15. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng slipped 0.06% to 19,984.42.