European shares were trading a little higher around midday Wednesday. The tone marked a slowdown in momentum after US and Asian indices hit record highs overnight.
Investors were also likely a little cautious ahead of the UK’s Budget announcement Wednesday. It will be the first budget since the General election earlier this year and Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to detail lower economic growth expectations, than in the previous Budget.
By 1230 BST, the EUROSTOXX 600 was trading 0.3% in the green, while the EUROSTOXX 50 was 0.24% higher.
The regional bourses were a little mixed, however. The German DAX was 0.2% in the red, while the French CAC was up 0.2% and the Spanish IBEX gained some 0.65%.
Utilities put in a solid performance, Wednesday.
Shares in German business RWE were 3.1% higher following a UBS upgrade to ‘Buy’ as the financial services firm said it may have overstated some risks, previously. Spanish utilities firm, Endesa’s shares, were 2.2% in the green.
Shares in Dutch chemicals firm Azko Nobel, meanwhile, were up 1.6% as merger talks with Axalta came to an end.
Among the fallers, were Norwegian media group Schibsted, who’s shares were down 7.7% after it announced a new share issue. And, UK travel agent Thomas Cook shares were 8.6% lower after some disappointing details in its Full Year earnings report.
UK Budget in focus
The tone among European shares was a little cautious as UK Chancellor Hammond prepares to open the red briefcase and give his Budget speech at 1230 BST.
As always, the way in which he plans to balance the books will be of huge interest, as will the forecasts for UK economic growth, unemployment, spending and the public finances. While they are calculated by the Office for Budget Responsibility, (OBR) they are unveiled by the Chancellor first.