European Shares Set For Firmer Start

European stocks look set to open on a positive note Wednesday as investors keep a wary eye on the Covid-19 surge in several countries and await the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate decision due later in the day.

The Fed is widely expected to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy, but traders will be paying close attention to any changes to the accompanying statement that may signal a shift in the near future.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that a variant of Covid-19 feared to be contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India has been found in over a dozen countries.

Separately, White House chief medical adviser and America’s top pandemic expert Dr Anthony Fauci told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday that Covaxin, India’s home-grown Covid-19 vaccine, has been found to neutralize the 617 variants of the deadly virus.

Asian markets rose broadly, though the upside remained capped as investors awaited earnings from heavyweights Apple Inc, Facebook and Amazon due this week.

Microsoft shares fell in after-hours trading despite the company topping earnings forecasts and meeting analyst expectations for its quarterly sales.

Shares of Google parent Alphabet rose in extending trading as the company reported record profit for the second consecutive quarter and announced a $50 billion share buyback.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices smashed Wall Street’s estimates for the first quarter and guided higher for the current quarter.

Gold hovered near one-week low as the dollar rose against its rivals amid firmer U.S. Treasury yields.

Oil prices were little changed as traders reacted to API data showing a bigger-than-expected build in U.S. crude stocks and the decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to gradually increase oil output.

Consumer confidence survey results from Germany and France are due later in the session, headlining a light day for the European economic news.

The German GfK confidence index is forecast to rise to -3.5 in May from -6.2 in April. Economists expect France’s sentiment indicator to drop marginally to 93 in April from 94 in March.

U.S. stocks ended flat to slightly lower overnight as Treasury yields climbed and Tesla’s results failed to impress investors. The Dow and the S&P 500 ended nearly flat while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3 percent.

European stocks edged lower on Tuesday even as travel stocks rallied on hopes of a post-Covid rebound.

The pan European Stoxx 600 ended little changed with a negative bias. The German DAX and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 dipped around 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 index finished marginally lower.

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