Earnings, central bank policy in focus

LONDON — European markets are set for a higher open on Friday to close out a busy week of corporate earnings and major central bank decisions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down 0.5% on Thursday, pulling back from the two-year highs it scaled in late January, after the Bank of England held interest rates steady with an unexpected split vote that highlighted the tricky outlook for policymakers as inflation moves closer to target.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve also left policy unchanged and Chair Jerome Powell poured cold water on speculation about a potential first interest rate cut in March.

Preliminary inflation data for the euro zone on Thursday revealed the annual increase in the headline consumer price index eased slightly in January, while core figures declined less than expected and services inflation held steady.

Corporate earnings have been a key driver of individual share price movement in Europe throughout the week, with the likes of Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Adidas and Volvo Cars making significant moves on Thursday.

Friday is set to be quieter on the earnings front, with Spain’s CaixaBank among the biggest names reporting. No major corporate earnings or economic data releases are due from Europe.

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