European stocks held onto modest gains Wednesday as investors set positions ahead of a key rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve and results from national elections in the Netherlands.
The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600 Index was marked 0.23% higher at 374.32 my mid-morning trading, with benchmarks around the region edging higher. Britain's FTSE 100 led the advance, rising 20 points in the opening two hours as trader took advantage of a weaker pound on foreign exchange markets.
Global oil prices traded on a firmer footing in Asia, rising more than 2% from Tuesday's three-month lows after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed commercial stockpiles unexpectedly fell by 531,000 barrels last week, the first so-called "draw down" in over two months.
WTI futures for April delivery were marked 2.4% higher at $48.52 per barrel while Brent contract for May delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 1.4% higher at $51.63 per barrel.
U.S. equity futures are pointing to a rebound on Wall Street later Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average poised to add 37.5 points after Tuesday's 0.21% decline. The S&P 500 is priced to open 5.67 points higher while the Nasdaq has a 10.5 point gain signalled for the start of trading.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals plc (HKMPY) shares were an early mover of note in Europe as they surged to a seven-month high Wednesday after the generic drugmaker said new products and stronger sales will boost 2017 earnings.
Hikma pegged its full-year revenue forecast at $2.2 billion on a constant currency basis and held its generic drugs sales forecast steady at $800 million. The estimates followed full-year 2016 revenues of $1.95 billion and core operating profit of $419 million.