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European stocks edge higher; German import prices drop sharply

Published 08/30/2023, 03:56 PM
© Reuters.
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Investing.com - European stock markets traded marginally higher Wednesday, with investors digesting regional inflation data, helped by the strong close on Wall Street overnight.

At 03:45 ET (07:45 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.1% higher, while the CAC 40 in France climbed 0.1% and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.5%.

German, Spanish inflation eyed

Data released earlier Wednesday saw German import prices fall by 13.2% year-on-year in July, the sharpest drop since January 1987, suggesting inflationary pressures acting on the eurozone's largest economy are retreating rapidly.

That said, the state of North Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, reported CPI rising 0.5% in August, an annual increase of 5.9%, above expectations, suggesting the report for Germany as a whole could have upside pressure. It is expected to rise 6.0% on an annual basis, a drop from 6.2% the prior month.

Spanish CPI rose 0.5% on the month in August, slightly above expectations, while the annual figure came in at 2.6%.

The August eurozone CPI release is due later this week, and is expected to fall to 5.1% from 5.3% in July.

ECB President Christine Lagarde hinted that the region’s central bank will pause its rate-hiking cycle in September at the press conference that followed its last meeting, a view that was hardened by a sharper-than-expected contraction in eurozone business activity.

Strong Wall Street close helps tone

The major indices on Wall Street closed sharply higher Tuesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite leading the way, gaining 1.7%.

This followed the release of data showing U.S. job openings dropped to the lowest level in well over 2 years in July, raising hopes that the Federal Reserve was set to end its interest rate hiking cycle.

The Fed is widely expected to stand pat next month, so it's the meetings in November and December that are causing uncertainty as investors digest the incoming economic data for clues of what the U.S. central bank will do next.

Insurers help U.K. market

In the corporate sector, Prudential (LON:PRU) (LON:PRU) stock rose 3.6% after the U.K.-based but Asia-focused insurer posted a higher first-half operating profit, while Direct Line (LON:DLGD) stock gained 2.2% after the British motor insurer named Adam Winslow, a senior executive at Aviva (LON:AV) (LON:AV), as its new CEO.

Elsewhere, Delivery Hero (ETR:DHER) stock fell 4.4% despite the German online food delivery service reporting a narrowing of its net loss in its first half, while Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk (CSE:NOVOb) (CSE:NOVOb) edged higher even following reports its popular diabetes drug could be one of the next drugs to have its price slashed in bargaining with the U.S. government.

Crude rises after massive U.S. inventories draw

Oil prices rose Wednesday, extending recent gains after industry data pointed to a hefty draw in U.S. crude stockpiles, adding to concerns about a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute, released late Tuesday, showed that crude stocks fell by over 11 million barrels last week, suggesting healthy demand ahead of the Labor Day holiday that usually marks peak summer demand.

Additionally, Hurricane Idalia continues to head towards Florida, disrupting production in the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) (NYSE:CVX) said it had evacuated staff from three platforms, while Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI) (NYSE:KMI) said it planned to shut a petroleum pipeline.

The offshore Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 15% of U.S. oil output and about 5% of natural gas production, according to the Energy Information Administration.

By 03:45 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $81.64 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.5% to $85.30. Both contracts rose over 1% on Tuesday.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,963.35/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.0866.

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