European stocks were mixed to higher on Thursday, as the minutes of the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting still lent support to global equity markets and after the Bank of England left its monetary policy unchanged.
During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.01%, France’s CAC 40 added 0.21%, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.37%.
Global equities were boosted after the Fed's March meeting minutes released on Wednesday showed that officials discussed whether to make a more explicit commitment to keeping short-term interest rates at record lows until inflation moves higher, but instead decided to wait.
The minutes also indicated growing concerns among officials over persistently low inflation.
Last month the U.S. central bank reduced the monthly pace of purchases by $10 billion, to $55 billion, and repeated it is likely to continue paring the program in “further measured steps.”
Financial stocks were turned lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PAR) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) dropped 1.35% and 0.73%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) tumbled 1.12%.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Intesa Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) and Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) retreated 0.62% and 0.86%, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) plummeted 1.07% and 1.62% respectively.
Elsewhere, Carrefour (CARR.PAR) dropped 0.55% after the French retailer reported first-quarter revenue that matched analysts' estimates.
In London, FTSE 100 rose 0.34%, after the Bank of England kept the benchmark interest rate on hold and announced no change to its asset purchase facility program.
Financial stocks remained mostly higher. Shares in Barclays (BARC.LSE) rose 0.30% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) climbed 0.43%, while Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) and HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) gained 0.87% and 0.88% respectively.
The Royal Bank of Scotland found support after the bank reached an agreement to end the U.K. Treasury’s dividend access share, bringing the company a step closer to paying dividends.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer (MKS.LSE) turned lower, plummeting 1.38%, although the apparel retailer reported a smaller-than-expected drop in fourth-quarter general merchandise sales, thanks to improving demand for women's clothing.
G4S (G4S.COP) was also on the downside, with shares plunging 2.51%, even as U.K. ministers said on Wednesday they were satisfied with the security firm's efforts to overhaul itself following a series of damaging failures.
Mining stocks added to losses, erasing their earlier uptrend, as Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LSE) slipped 0.26% and Rio Tinto (RIO.LSE) dropped 0.62%, while rivals Bhp Billiton (BLT.LSE) and Antofagasta (ANTO.LSE) tumbled 1.08% and 1.24%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.27% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.26% decline, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.24% loss.
Later in the day, the U.S. Labor Department was to release its weekly report on initial jobless claims.