European stocks marginally higher as investors assess interest rate outlook

European markets were cautiously higher on Monday, coming off a losing week as hawkish comments from major central banks signaled further monetary policy tightening in 2023.

The Stoxx 600 was up 0.5% around midday London time, with all sectors and major bourses trading in positive territory. Oil and gas led gains, up 2.4%, followed by retail, which was up 1%.

The European Central Bank hiked its key interest rate from 1.5% to 2% on Thursday and said it would look to shrink its balance sheet by around 15 billion euros ($15.9 billion) every month from March 2023 to the end of the second quarter. The ECB said rate hikes would need to continue “significantly at a steady pace.”

The Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank struck similar tones and also opted for 50 basis point hikes, matching the U.S. Federal Reserve‘s decision on Wednesday. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also indicated that the central bank’s efforts to rein in inflation are far from over, and said policymakers will “have to stay at it.”

The moves led the Stoxx 600 to two consecutive sessions of sharp losses, taking the European blue chip index to a near-five week low.

Markets in Asia-Pacific retreated overnight on Monday as traders struggled to look past recession fears, while Chinese officials vowed to stabilize the country’s economy in 2023 and maintain ample liquidity in financial markets.

Stateside, U.S. stock futures inched fractionally higher in early premarket trade on Monday, after Wall Street’s major averages posted their second consecutive week of losses for the first time since September.

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