By Sruthi Shankar and Ankika Biswas
(Reuters) – European stocks emerged from their session lows and closed nearly flat on Thursday after the European Central Bank raised interest rates by an expected 75 basis points and signalled a slower pace of rate hikes going forward.
An index of euro zone stocks ended the day down 0.1%. It had shed as much as 1.2% before the ECB’s policy decision.
The bloc’s lenders outperformed with a 0.6% gain after the ECB cut subsidies it provides to banks through cheap loans called Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTRO), which analysts said was not as bad as feared.
The central bank raised its deposit rate by 75 basis points to 1.5% and put the reduction of its bloated balance sheet on the agenda, but said “substantial” progress had already been made in its bid to fight off a historic surge in inflation.
“The ECB is living on the edge of a dovish pivot. It’s clear that this is a central bank that wants to front-load rate hikes to control inflation,” said Viraj Patel, global macro strategist at Vanda Research in London.
“But they are also wary that they are not in control of a lot of external growth and market factors that can act as a circuit-breaker to the hiking cycle.”
The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed flat, with banking-heavy Italian and Spanish indexes outperforming.
“With another 75bp rate hike delivered today and expectations for NII (net interest income) across many banks looking unaggressive, we remain positive,” analysts at Jefferies wrote in a note.
Credit Suisse tumbled 18.6% after the embattled lender said it planned to raise 4 billion Swiss francs($4.05 billion), cut thousands of jobs and shift its focus to its rich clients from investment banking, as it attempts to put years of scandals behind it.
Boosting UK’s FTSE 100, Shell rose 5.5% after the energy major posted $9.45 billion in profit and announced plans to raise its dividend by year-end. France’s TotalEnergies gained 3.0% after posting a jump in third-quarter net profit.
The two companies helped lift Europe’s oil & gas sector by 3.5%.
However, technology stocks remained under pressure as Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics fell 7.0% after it forecast sales growth to slow in the latter part of the year.
Miners also took a hit as Anglo American fell 2.0% after a drop in copper production kept its third-quarter output broadly in line with last year.
($1 = 0.9873 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar, Anisha Sircar and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Danilo Masoni in Milan; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi, Arun Koyyur and Shinjini Ganguli)