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European stocks largely flat; investors wary ahead of central bank meetings

Published 12/08/2022, 05:36 PM
© Reuters.
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By Peter Nurse

Investing.com - European stock markets traded largely unchanged Thursday, with investors wary about the state of the global economy ahead of next week’s crucial central bank meetings.

At 04:15 ET (09:15 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.1% higher, CAC 40 in France traded up 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. dropped 0.1%.

European investors appear reluctant to engage in much activity as the week nears the end, having been rattled by downbeat comments from top executives at a number of senior banks, predicting that tightening monetary conditions will likely result in a global recession in 2023.

Next week sees policy-setting meetings by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, and these two senior central banks are both expected to lift interest rates to tackle inflation still at elevated levels.

While the ECB is expected to follow the Fed with a hike of 50 basis points, there exists a hawkish group within Europe’s main central bank that wants a third successive increase of 75 basis points, even after Eurozone inflation fell for the first time in 18 months.

In corporate news, Frasers (LON:FRAS) stock fell 4% after the retailer’s core U.K. sports retail business performed weakly, with revenue falling 3.1%. That said, the group’s pivot away from its discount sports retailing business appears to be timely as it remained confident of meeting its full-year profit target.

DS Smith (LON:SMDS) stock rose 2.1% after the U.K. packaging group raised its guidance for the full year and increased its dividend by 25%, while British American Tobacco (NYSE:BTI) stock fell 3% after the tobacco giant declined to provide a full-year forecast for its combustible cigarette brands, relying on growth for its e-cigarettes and oral nicotine products.

There is little on the European economic calendar Thursday, but appearances by assorted central bankers, including ECB president Christine Lagarde, will be studied carefully.

Crude oil prices rose Thursday, rebounding after falling to their lowest levels this year, although gains are tentative as concerns of a global economic slowdown grow.

The market received a boost from data released Wednesday showing U.S. inventories shrank more than expected last week, while China's loosening of more of its COVID mobility restrictions also helped sentiment.

However, worries about demand growth, particularly from the U.S. market, the largest consumer in the world, remain the dominant influence on the crude market.

By 04:15 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.9% higher at $72.69 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.7% to $77.68.

Brent settled on Wednesday below the year's previous closing low touched on the first day of 2022, while the U.S. contract dropped to a fresh yearly low.

Additionally, gold futures edged 0.1% lower to $1,796.15/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0514.

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