European stock markets were narrowly mixed and the euro dropped versus the dollar on Wednesday as investors waited for key monetary policy decisions by the European Central Bank and Bank of England.
Markets are forecasting an ECB rate cut on Thursday and a decision the same day by the BoE to add a further £50 billion ($78 billion, 62 billion euros) of stimulus to boost recession-hit Britain.
In afternoon trading in London, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.10 percent at 5,693.20 points. Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.44 percent to 6,549.45 points and in Paris the CAC 40 shed 0.31 percent to 3,2261.18.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro dropped to $1.2561 from $1.2607 late on Tuesday in New York.
"Investors have spent the first half of this week eagerly looking forward to the final two days, when central bank meetings and (Friday's US) non-farm payrolls will provide plenty of excitement," said IG Index dealer Rupert Osborne.
"The hope is that both the Bank of England and the ECB will undertake policy action, with the former adding £50 billion ... in response to weaker economic figures, while the latter cuts interest rates by 25 basis points in a bid to ease some of the ongoing tensions in the eurozone.
"Nothing, however, is certain and last month's disappointment surrounding the Fed's failure to act (on stimulus) could easily be replicated."
Ahead of the European monetary policy decisions, data on Wednesday showed that Italy's public deficit rose to 8.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of this year on lower tax revenues and higher interest payments.
Italy entered recession in the second half of last year and the government is forecasting a contraction of 1.2 percent this year. Britain, which is not a member of the single currency bloc, also fell back into recession in late 2011.
In company news, all eyes were again on Barclays, with former chief executive Bob Diamond facing a grilling from British lawmakers on Wednesday, the day after he quit as the bank's chief executive over an interest rate rigging scandal.
Barclays chief operating officer Jerry del Missier and the bank's chairman Marcus Agius also resigned this week.
Barclays' shares showed a gain of 1.05 percent at 168.80 pence.
New York markets were closed for Independence Day celebrations.