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European stocks fluctuate; U.S. GDP, Fed in focus

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Shutterstock photo - European stocks swung between small gains and losses in choppy trade on Wednesday, as investors remained cautious before the outcome of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting later in the day.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 lost 0.2%, France's CAC 40 eased down 0.4%, while Germany's DAX 30 shed 0.3%.

Shares in Germany came under pressure following the release of data which painted a mixed picture of the German economy.

Official data earlier showed that the number of unemployed people in Germany fell for the second consecutive month in July, while retail sales declined unexpectedly in June.

Germany's Federal Statistics Office said the number of unemployed people fell by a seasonally adjusted 7,000 in July, compared to expectations for a decline of 4,000.

A separate report showed that retail sales declined 1.5% in June, disappointing expectations for a 0.4% rise, after an increase of 0.7% the previous month.

Also Wednesday, data showed that the euro zone's unemployment rate held steady at a seasonally adjusted 12.1% in June, unchanged from May's reading of 12.1%.

Meanwhile, consumer price inflation in the single currency bloc rose by a seasonally adjusted 1.6% in July, in line with forecasts and unchanged from June's 1.6% reading.

Shares German financial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp tumbled 4% after UBS downgraded the stock to 'sell' from 'buy', citing an increasing risk that it will need to raise new capital.

On the upside, French automaker Peugeot surged 6.5% after posting an operating loss of EUR65 million in the first half, better than expectations for a loss of EUR296 million.

Anheuser-Busch InBev reported second-quarter sales and earnings that exceeded analysts' estimates, sending its shares soaring 7%.

Meanwhile, in London, FTSE 100 added 0.5% as investors looked ahead to the Bank of England's policy decision on Thursday.

Shares in drinks maker Diageo tacked on 2.7% after reporting a rise in full-year profit and revenue.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a loss of 0.1%, S&P 500 futures signaled a flat open, while the Nasdaq 100 futures were little changed.

Markets now looked ahead to the Fed's upcoming policy statement due later in the day on hopes the central bank will offer more clues on when it could slow the pace of its monthly bond purchases.

In addition, traders are awaiting the release of U.S. growth figures for the second quarter scheduled for later in the session for indications of how the economic recovery is progressing.

The U.S. was also to produce reports on non-farm employment change and manufacturing activity in Chicago. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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