European equities are expected to open mixed on Thursday as investors react to a dovish statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released an unexpectedly dovish message to markets on Wednesday. While the Fed indicated it will raise rates with the removal of the word "patient" from its statement, it also signalled that it was not in a hurry to do so.
"Just because we removed the word 'patient' does not mean we will become impatient," Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at a post-meeting news conference.
"The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term," the statement said.
The statement prompted economists to move the expected timing of an interest rate rise from June to September. U.S. equities rebounded following the statement and Asian markets were mostly trading higher overnight.
The FTSE is expected to open higher on Thursday as investors in the U.K. digest the annual U.K. budget statement presented by the finance minister George Osborne on Wednesday.
Osborne revealed that U.K. growth forecasts by the independent government forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), has risen to 2.3 percent for next year -- up from earlier forecasts of 2.2 percent.
In other news, markets will watch a European Union (EU) summit on Thursday at which Greek debt crisis is expected to top the agenda.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asked for a meeting with top European policymakers, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the sidelines of the summit. Chancellor Merkel is due to speak before the German parliament ahead of the EU summit.
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