European shares flat-to-mixed amid ECB bond-buying end date hints

European shares are mixed-to-lower Wednesday as Italian banks are lower and a stronger euro also works to make stocks a little more expensive for overseas investors.

European shares flat-to-mixed amid ECB bond-buying end date hints

European shares are trading flat-to-broadly lower shortly after midday Wednesday, as investors become more cautious as ECB members begin to indicate when its bond-buying programme will end. Italian and global political woes are also weighing on sentiment.

By 1310 BST the EUROSTOXX 600 was 0.01% lower, while the EUROSTOXX 50 edged 0.09% higher. Regional bourses were equally mixed. The German DAX moved 0.34% into positive territory, the French CAC lost 0.01% and the Spanish IBEX was 0.93% in the green.

ECB bond-buying programme ending in sight

The euro is moving broadly higher amid reports that the ECB’s bond-buying programme could be wound down by the end of 2018. Indeed, a Bloomberg report suggests the meeting next week will be used to discuss a bond-buying programme exit plan.

That report gained further support from comments made by the ECB’s chief economist in a speech in Berlin.

“Next week, the Governing Council will have to assess whether progress so far has been sufficient to warrant a gradual unwinding of our net purchases, Peter Praet said. “In making its assessment, it will consider the underlying strength of the euro area economy and the pass-through to wage and price formations.”

In addition, media reports suggest that ECB member Jens Weidmann also said current market expectations for an end to the EBC’s QE programme before the end of 2018 are plausible.

Stock movers

Against that backdrop, there were some interesting stock movers of note.

Italian bank shares are lower amid ongoing political uncertainty there and fears over their exposure to significant Government debt.

  • UniCredit shares lost 0.65% to hit €13.96.
  • Intesa Sanpaolo shares fell 1.56% to trade at €2.46.
  • Bper Banca shares were 0.14% lower at €4.14.

Elsewhere, Smurfit Kappa shares gained 0.48% to trade at £2,934 after the International Paper Company opted to end its purchase plan of Europe no.1 packaging firm.

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