EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Stuck In Tight Ranges As Traders Wait For Yellen

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Pearson to sell Penguin stake for $1 billion

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European stocks struggled for direction in Tuesday's trade, as investors took a cautious approach ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.2% to 380.84, partly erasing a 0.4% advance from Monday.

The pan-European index traded with a gain of as much as 0.3% just after the open, but the optimism quickly fizzled.

"With the absence of any top tier news and the markets waiting for further indications on the Fed's policy when Janet Yellen testifies before Congress on Wednesday, investors and traders are currently in 'wait and see' mode," said FXTM chief market strategist Hussein Sayed, in a note.

After the latest Fed minutes out last week, investors are still expecting the U.S. central bank to hike rates at least one more time this year, but they are waiting on clues as to the timing of the next tightening move.

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"Dollar bulls are counting on the Fed Chair's continued hawkishness, and whether she will provide more details on monetary policy becoming tighter," Sayed said.

"However, it has been more than one year since the unemployment rate dipped below 5% and wage growth is still anemic, making it difficult for many investors to believe that interest rates will increase at the pace suggested by monetary policy makers," he added.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a slightly higher open on Tuesday.

U.S. interest rates are important to investors globally as many assets are priced in dollars and the tone from the Fed signals the strength of the world's largest economy.

There were no major European economic news on deck on Tuesday.

The euro traded at $1.1393, down from $1.1400 late Monday in New York.

Ahead of Yellen's testimony Wednesday, two Bank of England policy makers will speak Tuesday. Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane, who recently signaled he could support an upward move in interest rates (http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2017/speech984.pdf), will appear on a panel at the Bank of England at 11:00 a.m. London time, or 6 a.m. Eastern Time.

Deputy Gov. Ben Broadbent will speak at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Aberdeen, Scotland, at 12 p.m. London time.

European indexes: Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.3% to 12,489.28, while France's CAC 40 index was up 0.2% at 5,173.54.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index fell 0.4% to 7,343.79 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-steers-lower-as-ms-pearson-fall-2017-07-11).

Stock movers: Shares of Pearson PLC (PSON.LN) fell 3.8%, giving back a rise of roughly 3% early Tuesday after the British education and publishing company said it is selling a 22% stake in Penguin Random House (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pearson-sells-penguin-random-house-stake-for-1b-2017-07-11) for $1 billion to its joint-venture partner, German media company Bertelsmann SE.

TUI AG rose 1.5% after the travel firm said it has sold its remaining 8.5 million shares in Hapag-Lloyd AG (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tui-sells-remaining-stake-in-hapag-lloyd-2017-07-11)(HLAG.XE) for 244.4 million euros ($278.3 million).

Sanofi SA shares (SAN.FR) (SAN.FR) advanced 0.3%. The French drugmaker said it would buy vaccines biotechnology firm Protein Sciences (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sanofi-to-buy-vaccine-maker-protein-sciences-2017-07-11) for an upfront payment of $650 million.

Marks & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN) (MKS.LN) dropped 1.4% after the retailer reported a 0.5% fall in U.K. like-for-like sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ms-uk-same-store-sales-decline-2017-07-11) for the first quarter of fiscal 2018.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 11, 2017 04:29 ET (08:29 GMT)