Today, on Thursday, European stock indexes declined in anticipation of a significant meeting of the European Central Bank, at which a schedule for raising interest rates should be set to combat rising inflation in Europe.

By 03:45 am ET (07:45 GMT), the DAX index in Germany was trading 0.7% lower, the CAC 40 in France was 0.5% lower, and the British FTSE 100 was 0.5% lower.

European indices are trading timidly, focusing on the ECB monetary policy meeting later in the session. The central bank is expected to announce an imminent end to large asset purchases, which should pave the way next month for the first interest rate hike in more than a decade to combat record inflation.

Last month, bank governor Christine Lagarde unveiled a plan to end the central bank’s very flexible monetary policy, saying that the ECB’s deposit rate of -0.5% will start to rise in July and could be at zero or slightly higher by the end of September before rising further “to a neutral level.”

Since Lagarde has already proposed July as a starting point for a rate hike, the main excitement is likely to arise at her press conference, as investors are waiting for indications on how tough the bank can act against the background of inflation, more than 5 times the medium-term level of 3%. As for corporate news, British American Tobacco (LON:BATS) shares fell 0.6%, still a broader index after the tobacco giant maintained its annual forecast despite the decision to exit the Russian business.

Shares of Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) fell 3.6% after its rise on Wednesday amid growing skepticism about the bank’s takeover by US financial giant State Street (NYSE:STT).

There are few important economic data due to be published in Europe on Thursday, but on Wednesday evening China released stronger-than-expected trade data suggesting a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy, as strict measures to combat COVID-19 are being lifted there.

Oil prices came off the 3-month highs reached earlier in the session, on the back of trade data from China, which indicated additional demand from the world’s largest oil importer.

Official data from the US Energy Information Administration, also released on Wednesday, showed the accumulation of just over 2 million barrels of crude oil last week, but gasoline stocks in the US decreased by 812,000 barrels, indicating the stability of fuel demand during the peak summer season, despite rising prices.

By 03:45 am ET (07:45 GMT), U.S. WTI crude futures were trading 0.5% lower at $121.52 per barrel, and the Brent crude contract fell 0.4% to $123.07. Both benchmarks closed Wednesday at their highest level since March 8.

In addition, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,851.85 per ounce, while EUR/USD declined to 1.0712.

Investors are waiting for the results of the two-day meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB), which will be held in.

Experts mainly predict that the ECB will announce its intention to complete the asset repurchase program in June and raise the deposit rate, currently minus 0.5%, in July. The rate has been below zero since 2014.

Investors will also be waiting for signals from the regulator about how much it plans to raise the rate next month, and at what pace it intends to increase it in the future, Dow Jones notes. Futures quotes for the rate level show that the market estimates a 50% probability of a rate hike by the European Central Bank by 50 basis points (bp) at once at the July meeting. The last time the ECB raised the rate by 50 bps was in 2000.

“The most likely outcome of the meeting will be the announcement by the Central Bank that it will start raising the rate in July and bring it to zero in the third quarter,” said Mohit Kumar, EMEA Jefferies market economist. “The most important thing to keep an eye on is the tone of the ECB’s statements regarding the pace of rate hikes in July and September.”