European Stocks Seen Opening Weak

European bourses are expected to open on a cautious note on Thursday as sentiment remains impacted by the geopolitical crisis in the region that continues unabated. Fears of a fresh offensive in eastern Ukraine and the attacks that continue despite the pledge to cut down on military operations dampened hopes of a progressive outcome form the peace talks.

Data showing a drop in Eurozone’s economic sentiment and the slew of data releases awaited are expected to keep the markets on tenterhooks at end of a tumultuous month.

On Wednesday, European markets had closed lower as ceasefire hopes faded with renewed military action by Russia. Germany’s DAX shed 1.45 percent, France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.74 percent, Switzerland’s SMI weakened 0.66 percent and the pan European Stoxx 600 lost 0.41 percent. U.K.’s FTSE 100 however added 0.55 percent.

The Wall Street had declined on Wednesday as faltering hopes of peace talks exacerbated the anxiety over the jobs report due Friday and its impact on the pace of the Fed’s interest rate actions. Nasdaq-100 weakened 1.10 percent to close at 15,071.55 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.19 percent to end at 35,228.81.

The FTSE 100 futures (June) is trading 0.02 percent lower. The DAX Futures (June) is trading 0.10 percent higher. The CAC Futures (April) is trading 0.13 percent lower.

Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the Dollar against a basket of six currencies has moved to 97.86, from 97.79 at the close on Wednesday. The EURUSD pair has edged up to 1.1170, while the GBPUSD pair has gained 0.01 percent to 1.3132.

Gold Futures for April settlement is trading at $1922.30 per troy ounce, about 0.58 percent lower than the previous close of $1,933.50 in the backdrop of a stronger Dollar.

WTI Crude Futures for May settlement is trading at $102.58, an overnight drop of 4.86 percent whereas Brent Crude Futures for June settlement is trading at $107.22, down 3.79 percent from the previous close, amidst the U.S. warning of a massive release of oil from its strategic reserves. The OPEC+ ministerial meeting is taking place on Thursday.

American futures point to positive trends, with the US 30 (DJIA) index up 0.03 percent and US500 (S&P 500) up 0.11 percent.

Asian markets are trading mixed, following an overnight decline in Wall Street. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is the greatest laggard with a decline of 1.19 percent. Japan’s Nikkei Index has shed 0.69 percent; China’s Shanghai Composite has dropped 0.33 percent; India’s Nifty 50 has edged down 0.08 percent; New Zealand’s NZX 50 has gained 0.10 percent; Australia’s S&P ASX 200 has edged up 0.11 percent; and South Korean Kospi has gained 0.36 percent.

Data released just a while ago from U.K. showed fourth quarter current account deficit narrowing sharply to 7.3 billion pounds from 28.9 billion pounds in the previous period and market forecasts of 17.6 billion pounds.

U.K.’s GDP growth in fourth quarter clocked 1.3 percent, versus 0.9 percent gain in the previous quarter. YoY growth in GDP recorded a 6.60 percent jump. House prices jumped by 12.6 percent year-on-year in February, compared to a 11.2 percent increase in January and versus expectations of a 10.7 percent rise. On a monthly basis, prices climbed 1.7 percent.

Data released shows the Germany the Retail Sales MoM reading at 0.3 percent and YoY reading at 7 percent.

Preliminary inflation reading for the month of March is due today from France. Markets are expecting a reading of 4.3 percent versus 3.6 percent recorded in the month of February.

Euro Area awaits February’s Unemployment report. Consensus estimates point to a further drop in the reading to 6.7 percent, as compared to a record low of 6.8 percent in January.

Germany is awaiting the Unemployment Report for March later in the day.

Swiss Retail sales number for February is also due later in the day.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is expected to unveil data on personal spending, income etc. as well as the personal consumption expenditure price index for the month of February, that would show the impact of inflation on consumption patterns.

Earnings updates are due from apparel manufacturer H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, Norwegian Finans Holding, real estate business Deutsche Wohnen, Norwegian Property, optical retailer Grandvision BV, mobility service business Sixt SE and energy business Tauron Polska Energia.

(removes the additional word “braces” in the headline)

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