European equities were mixed on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve ‘s two-day policy meeting and the annual U.K. Budget statement.
The U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 100 (FTSE International: .FTSE) ticked around 0.9 percent higher, while the French CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI), German DAX (^GDAXI) and FTSE MIB (FTSE International: .FTMIB) traded lower.
U.K. investors focused on the Budget , which was presented by the country’s finance minister, George Osborne, at 12:30 p.m.GMT. The FTSE rose as Osborne began to speak and sterling (Exchange:GBP=) pared some losses.
Read More Live blog: Osborne out to woo voters in UK Budget
The Budget comes just ahead of May’s general election and could contain key changes to fiscal policy, potentially moving markets.
“Some of these are likely to see significant moves in oil and gas stocks, particularly if the well-trailed tax breaks come in as expected,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a research note on Wednesday morning.
“Housebuilding shares could also get a boost if we get investment initiatives to build more properties, given the pressure on housing.”
Earlier in the day, minutes from the Bank of England’s latest policy meeting showed the rate-setting committee had voted unanimously in favor of keeping the base rate unchanged.
In addition, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) downgraded its prediction for U.K. GDP growth this year by 1 percentage point to 2.6 percent.
In individual stock news, shares of lender Standard Chartered (London Stock Exchange: STAN-GB) gained 8 percent and topped the FTSE 100 after a price upgrade by analysts at Barclays.
Another top performer in Europe was Netherlands-based S (Euronext Amsterdam: SBMO-NL)BM Offshore (Euronext Amsterdam: SBMO-NL), which surged around 7 percent on reports of settlement talks in Brazil regarding a bribery case.
In addition, telecom company Prysmian (Milan Stock Exchange: PRY-IT) climbed 3.6 percent on the FTSE MIB on reports denying it was in talks with General Cable (BGC) over a possible acquisition deal.
Outside of Europe, investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy statement, due later on Wednesday. Speculation has mounted that the Fed could drop the word “patience” from its guidance about the pace at which it will normalize monetary policy. Some investors think that U.S. interest rates could be raised as early as June.
Back in Europe, Greece frustrated its euro zone peers by refusing to give an update on its reform progress at a scheduled teleconference on Tuesday, insisting instead that the discussions should be delayed until Thursday’s European Union summit.
Read More Most Germans now favor Grexit as relations sour
The Greek Athens Composite index traded more than 4 percent lower on Wednesday.
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