Europe midday: Trade tensions simmer ahead of Fed, ECB
Stocks on the Continent are holding slightly higher as investors wait on the result of the US central bank's policy meeting on Wednesday evening, with the European Central Bank's own policy meeting set for the next day.
In the background however, trade tensions continued to simmer, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying on Tuesday night that: "Trade surpluses are still calculated in a pretty old-fashioned way, based only on goods [...] But if you include services in the trade balance, the U.S. has big surplus with Europe."
Asylum seeker flows were also in the headlines ahead of an end-June European Union summit following a diplomatic spat between France and Italy over the latter's refusal to allow a shop carrying 629 migrants to dock in the country's ports.
Against that backdrop, as of 1400 BST the benchmark Stoxx 600 was advancing by 0.27% or 1.06 points to 388.59, alongside a 0.81% or 178.39 point rise for the FTSE Mibtel to 22,300.22.
The German Dax meanwhile was up by 0.30% or 38.19 points at 12,881.30.
The Federal Reserve was widely expected to tighten policy again, hiking the Fed funds rate by another 25 basis points, but analysts remained divided as to whether it would be followed by one or two more such hikes over the course of 2018.
Markets were also expectant ahead of the decision by the US administration, on Friday, on whether or not to impose tariffs on Chinese goods.
To take note of, on the economic front, reports early on Friday morning were indicating that the new Spanish government was set to repeal the prior government's decision to decouple the amount of yearly increases in public pensions from consumer prices.
Despite that, the yield on the country's 10-year government bonds was down by two basis points to 1.43%.
Also in Spanish news, national statistics office INE said harmonised consumer prices advanced at a 0.9% month-on-month (2.1% year-on-year) clip in May, which was in-line with economists' forecasts.
In other data, Eurostat reported that employment in the single currency bloc rose by 0.4% quarter-on-quarter over the first three months of 2018 and was up by 1.4% versus the same period one year ago - pushing further past the pre-crisis peaks in hiring reached in 2008.
At up by 1.7% on the year, the latest reading on euro area industrial production also fell short of forecasts calling for a rise of 3.0%.
On the corporate front, shares of Inditex reversed early losses after the iconic Spanish retailer posted weaker-than-expected first quarter revenues, although gross margins came in ahead of forecasts.
Analysts at Berenberg linked the 'miss' on the company's top-line to the impact of "unseasonal weather".
Thyssen Krupp shares were also higher, alongside a sourced report from Reuters according to whom the steel giant was planning a joint-venture with Tata steel.