EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Step Back From Highest In 5 Weeks, But Retailers Gain Ground

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Analyst: It's a typical low-volume lead up on a Fed-decision day

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European stocks pulled back from a five-week high Wednesday, with investors bracing for an expected hike in borrowing costs by the Federal Reserve, while retail shares were showing strength.

How markets are moving: The Stoxx Europe 600 index was down 0.1% to 391.22, with only the consumer services and financial sectors moving higher. Losses were led by utility and telecom shares. On Tuesday, the benchmark climbed 0.7% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-edge-slightly-higher-as-oil-shares-charge-up-2017-12-12) for its highest close since Nov. 8, according to FactSet data.

In Frankfurt, Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.1% to 13,175.44, and in Paris, the CAC 40 was off less than 2 points at 5,425.89.

But in Madrid, the IBEX 35 was up 0.3% at 10,319.10. In London, the FTSE 100 shed 1 point to 7,499.53

"European stock markets opened mixed on Wednesday, supported by some well-received corporate results but weighed down by caution ahead of the Federal Reserve interest-rate decision. It's a typically low-[volume] lead up to the Federal Open Market Committee," meeting later Wednesday, said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, in a note.

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The euro traded at $1.1744, down from $1.1743 late Tuesday in New York.

What's moving markets: Markets have essentially priced in an announcement of a quarter-percentage-point interest-rate hike by the U.S. central bank.

But there are still questions about how many more rate hikes will come from the Fed, especially as its moves influence prices for a range of assets. Outgoing Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen will hold a press conference at the conclusion of the bank's two-day meeting. The decision is due at 7:00 p.m. London time, or 2 p.m. Eastern. Yellen is scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will issue policy decision on Thursday, with investors eager to hear more on their thinking on inflation and economic growth. In the U.K., consumer price inflation has reached 3.1%, more than a percentage point higher than the central bank's target.

Stock movers: Shares of Inditex (ITX.MC) gained 3.2% after the parent company of apparel retailer Zara said the winter sales season got off to a more robust start than anticipated (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/zara-parent-inditex-profit-rises-but-margin-falls-2017-12-13), with revenue rising 6% in the nine-month period.

NCC AB shares (NCC-A.SK) tumbled 9% as the Swedish construction company said it's raising provisions in construction and civil engineering projects during the fourth quarter and warned that operating profit "is expected to be close to zero."

Dixons Carphone PLC shares (DC.LN) rose 3.5% as the electronics retailer said it logged record Black Friday sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dixons-carphone-tackling-mobiles-unit-performance-2017-12-13) and that it's working on addressing issues at its mobile division.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 13, 2017 05:19 ET (10:19 GMT)