(Alliance News) - On Friday, major European stock markets are expected to be in positive territory as markets digest the European Central Bank's rate decision, which, as expected, decided to leave rates unchanged but also signaled that it was ready to reduce them.

As outlined by Frankfurt, members noted that borrowing costs are at levels that are contributing substantially to the ongoing disinflation process, saying it would be appropriate to cut rates if the inflation outlook, the dynamics of underlying inflation and the strength of monetary policy transmission further increase confidence that inflation is converging toward the 2 percent target.

Thus, IG futures give the FTSE Mib in the green by 0.7 percent or up 227.5 points, after closing 1.0 percent in the red at 33,713.94.

Paris' CAC 40 is expected up 0.8 percent or up 61.3 points, Frankfurt's DAX 40 is given in the green by 0.8 percent or up 151.7 points, and London's FTSE 100 is expected up 0.5 percent or up 40.0 points.

In macroeconomic news, consumer price inflation in Germany was confirmed at 2.2 percent in March, down from 2.5 percent in the previous month.

This is the lowest rate since May 2021, close to the European Central Bank's target of 2.0 percent.

On the Mib on Thursday, ERG closed up 2.1 percent. The company reported that rating agency Fitch Ratings confirmed a long term issuer default rating of 'BBB-', with a Stable outlook, and a senior unsecured rating of 'BBB-'. Fitch pointed out that in an energy scenario characterized by increasing volatility, the rating reflects the soundness of the group's business model and portfolio.

Saipem also climbed, in the green by 0.6 percent to EUR2.32, on its fourth session in surplus. Of note, JPMorgan raised its target price on the stock to EUR3.20 from EUR3.00 with an 'overweight' rating.

BPER Banca left 3.9% at EUR4.27 per share on the parterre after a 1.8% brede on the eve.

Also red was Banca Monte dei Paschi, which left 3.5 percent on the platter after eve's 4.8 percent green.

Stellantis closed 0.1% red after announcing an additional EUR100 million investment to increase the potential of the Fiat 500e electric car. It also announced the start of annual production of 600,000 units of electrified dual-clutch transmissions at the eTransmissions assembly joint venture.

The company formed by the merger of FCA and PSA explained that this is the next step in a EUR240 million investment that contributes to the creation of the Mirafiori 2030 Automotive Park. Mirafiori will be one of Stellantis' three main global hubs for operations encompassing the entire automotive cycle, from design to recycling.

At the bottom remains Iveco Group, down 4.1 percent, in its third bearish session.

On the Mid-Cap, selling on Salvatore Ferragamo, which trades minus 6.1 percent at EUR9.58, following the previous session's 4.9 percent loss. Of note, on the stock Barclays cut has cut target price to EUR9.70 from EUR12.00 with 'underweight' title.

Fincantieri gave up 2.3 percent after reporting that it has received an order to build four new generation cruise ships from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. In detail, two ships will be for the Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand and two for Oceania Cruises. The former are expected to be delivered in 2026 and the latter in 2029.

Maire Tecnimont, on the other hand, left 4.4 percent on the parterre, subject to profit taking after four sessions closed with bullish candles.

d'Amico International Shipping rose 1.3 percent after announcing Wednesday that its operating subsidiary d'Amico Tankers DAC has signed an agreement to purchase the MT Amfitrion, a 50,000-ton deadweight 'MR' built in 2017 at Samsung Heavy Industries Ningbo, China, for USD43.5 million. The DIS fleet includes 34 double-hull tankers, with an average age relative to owned and chartered bareboat vessels of 8.8 years.

Alerion, on the other hand, rallied 3.5 percent, after a 2.1 percent decline in the eve. The company on Wednesday reported that it had completed construction and started production of two new photovoltaic plants in Italy and Romania.

Among smallcaps, Fidia advances 14% after reporting Wednesday that it closed fiscal 2023 with a net loss of EUR1.5 million, an improvement from a loss of EUR4.9 million in 2022. Consolidated net revenues were EUR28.6 million, up 17 percent from EUR24.4 million recorded in FY2022. During the meeting, the board approved a revision and update of the 2023-2026 business plan dated Oct. 31. The new plan calls for revenues to grow from EUR28.6 million in 2023 to EUR43.3 million in 2027.

Safilo Group - up 3.9 percent - and Marc Jacobs announced Wednesday that they have early renewed their multi-year global license agreement for Marc Jacobs eyewear collections through December 2031.

doValue left 7.2 percent on the parterre with price at EUR2.10 per share after three bearish sessions.

Restart closed down 1.6 percent, with price at EUR0.1270, after two sessions closed with a bullish candle.

TXT e-solutions -- down 0.7 percent to EUR22.45 per share -- announced Tuesday that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Azimut Direct, a fintech company of the Azimut Group -- in the red by 0.1 percent on the Mib -- that specializes in direct lending, minibonds and private equity.

Among SMEs, EdiliziAcrobatica rose 8.2 percent after reporting Thursday that the number of contracts signed in the first quarter of 2024 was 7,241 from 4,884 in the same period of 2023, an increase of 48 percent. This result reflects the growth in the number of customers, registering an annual increase of 92 percent.

Planetel rises 2.0 percent after announcing Wednesday that it has signed a binding agreement aimed at acquiring 100 percent of the share capital of Connetical, a Veneto-based integrated data and voice telecommunications company, for a maximum consideration of EUR2 million, subject to adjustments as per contract, with partners Stefano Pasqualin, Umberto Pasqualin and Daniele Gallina. The transaction is expected to close by the end of April.

At the tail end, Copernico sold 4.5 percent, with new price at EUR3.00.

Convergenze, on the other hand, gave up 1.9 percent, interrupting a five-session bullish mini-trend.

In Asia, the Nikkei is in the green by 0.2 percent at 39,576.16, the Hang Seng is in the red by 1.8 percent at 16,780.22 and the Shanghai Composite is in fractional green at 3,032.95.

In New York on Thursday, the Dow Jones closed fractionally in the red at 38,459.08, the S&P finished up 0.7 percent at 5,199.06, and the Nasdaq closed in the green 1.77 percent at 16,442.20.

Among currencies, the euro changed hands at USD1.0709 from USD1.0718 on Thursday in closing European equities while the pound was worth USD1.2543 from USD1.2529 on Thursday evening.

Among commodities, Brent crude is worth USD90.49 per barrel from USD89.85 on Thursday evening and gold trades at USD2,401.95 from USD2,349.20 on Thursday evening.

Friday's macroeconomic calendar includes, at 1000 CET, the release of Italian industrial sales data.

At 1430 CET, the import and export price index is due from the US. At 1900 CET, the Baker Hughes report will be released instead, while at 2130 CET, as usual on Friday, it will be the turn of the COT Report.

Among the companies in the Square of Business, the results of Bastogi, Indel B, and Vimi Fasteners are forthcoming.

By Claudia Cavaliere, Alliance News reporter

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