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European stocks higher as markets anticipate first ECB rate cut since 2019; Novo Nordisk up 3.5%

A sculpture of the Euro currency stands in the city centre of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on January 25, 2024.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | Afp | Getty Images

European stocks were higher Thursday, with traders anticipating that the European Central Bank will cut borrowing costs for the euro area for the first time since September 2019.

European markets

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.6% in early deals, with all major bourses and the vast majority of sectors in the green. Tech stocks jumped 1.7% while utilities were a rare outlier, down 0.7%.

Health-care stocks added 1%, led by Danish pharmaceuticals giant Novo Nordisk, which climbed 3.5% to hit a fresh record high amid continued demand for its blockbuster Wegovy weight loss drugs.

Although the ECB is widely expected to cut interest rates when policymakers meet, investors will be watching closely to see whether a slightly higher-than-expected euro zone inflation print released last Friday affects the central bank’s decision-making.

In any case, the ECB meeting has fired up markets elsewhere; Asia-Pacific stocks rose overnight as investors awaited the central bank’s rate cut, while softer U.S. labor market data on Wednesday fueled hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve might follow suit, boosting market sentiment.

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