(Alliance News) - European stock markets-according to the futures market-are heading for an upward opening Thursday, thanks to improved risk sentiment, despite growing fears that the Federal Reserve may further push back rate cuts or even decide not to ease monetary policy at all for this year.

In this regard, in the CME Group platform's FedWatch Tool, using futures also based on the actual federal funds rate, or EFFR, the rate confirmation in the May meeting has a 96 percent probability for confirmation in the 525/550 bps range. The 25 bps decline in the 500/525 bps target is therefore priced at 4%.

For the June meeting, futures indicate a probability of a 25 bps cut of 16% and 40% for July. For September, the probability remains consistently below 50%.

Economic numbers for the day include that in March, new car sales in the EU dropped 5.2 percent from the same month a year earlier to 1.0 million units. The data were published Thursday by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association ACEA.

The FTSE Mib-after closing Wednesday up 0.7 percent to 33,632.71-is marking a gain of 120.00 points.

Among other European exchanges, London's FTSE 100 is marking a green of 41.00 points, Paris' CAC 40 is advancing 7.10 points, and Frankfurt's DAX 40 is marking a surplus of 55.90 points.

The Mid-Cap last night lost 0.1 percent to 46,264.84, the Small-Cap gained 0.1 percent to 27,784.43, and Italy Growth rose 0.1 percent to 8,012.84.

On the Mib on Wednesday evening, the head of the list was for Banca Popolare di Sondrio, which closed up 5.7 percent after an eve's red of 2.4 percent.

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena -- up 2.0 percent -- announced that it had completed the placement of a EUR750 million 5-year covered bond issue. As the company explains, this is the first European covered bond issue carried out by the bank after the transposition of the European harmonization directive on covered bonds. In detail, orders exceeded EUR2.3 billion with coupon at the 3.5 percent level and at a re-offer price of 99.919 percent.

Banco BPM saw its target price increased by Deutsche Bank to EUR6.50 from EUR6.10. The stock closed trading up 2.0 percent.

Among the few bearish performers, Recordati was down 0.8 percent and Leonardo lost 1.7 percent, the subject of profit-taking after a bullish five-way rally.

On the Mid-Cap, SAES Getters rose 4.5 percent after the 1.4 percent red on eve. Worth mentioning that last week the companay let it be known that the board of directors authorized to proceed with the signing of a binding Share Purchase Agreement for the acquisition of 100 percent of the share capital of FMB Feinwerk- und Meßtechnik, now owned by majority shareholder Uwe Schneck, minority shareholders Ingmar Lehmann and Jens Rekow, and Mardi Beteiligungs & Co.

d'Amico gained 3.4 percent to EUR6.43, turning upward after two bearish sessions. The company announced Wednesday that its operating subsidiary d'Amico Tankers, has entered into a construction contract with Jiangsu New Yangzi Shipbuilding, China, for the purchase of two new 'Long Range' tankers at a contract price of USD55.4 million each. The company expects these two new ships to be delivered in September and November 2027, respectively.

ENAV -- up 0.6 percent -- announced Wednesday that it has won an order worth EUR720,000 with Fiji Airports for the supply, installation, testing and commissioning of the CRONOS platform and the Aeronautical Message Handling System (AMHS), two advanced tools for aeronautical information management and exchange.

At the back of the pack, Alerion confirmed the bearish trend with which it opened the session, giving up 1.8 percent after the eve's rise closed with a plus 1.6 percent.

On the Small-Cap, Seri Industrial rose 11 percent after three sessions closed with a bearish candle.

Eems, on the other hand, gained 2.7 percent after a 0.4 percent rise in the previous session.

KME Group rose 3.0 percent while Alkemy gained 1.4 percent. The stock on the MarketScreener platform, on the average of two analysts, is priced with a fair value at EUR16.00, making it about 44 percent underpriced.

Among the SMBs, Confinvest closed flat after four bullish sessions in a row.

Among the bearish, Impianti lost 1.7 percent while Culti Milano gave up 4.7 percent, reversing course after two bullish sessions.

In New York on European night, the Dow closed down 0.1 percent, the Nasdaq gave up 1.2 percent, and the S&P 500 left 0.6 percent on the sidelines.

Among Asian exchanges, the Nikkei picked up 0.3 percent, the Hang Seng is advancing 1.1 percent, and the Shanghai Composite is in the green by 0.3 percent.

Among currencies, the euro changed hands at USD1.0681 from USD1.0636 in Wednesday's European stock close while the pound is worth USD1.2471 from USD1.2451 last night.

Among commodities, Brent crude is worth USD87.47 per barrel from USD89.24 last night and gold trades at USD2,376.1 from USD2,390.63 last night.

Thursday's macroeconomic calendar features Eurozone current account numbers at 1000 CEST. Eurozone construction output will come in at 1100 CEST.

China's foreign direct investment will be released at 1200 CEST, the time when EU and Eurogroup leaders will meet.

In the afternoon, at 1430 CEST, space will be given to U.S. jobless claims ahead of home sales by an hour and a half. Later in the day, several members of the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bundensbank will speak. At 2230 CEST, the Fed's balance sheet will be released.

Among the companies in the Piazza Affari, the accounts of Bialetti Industrie and Dotstay are expected.

By Maurizio Carta, Alliance News senior reporter

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