European Stock Futures Lower; Caution as Week Ends

European Stock Futures Lower; Caution as Week Ends

European Stock Futures Lower; Caution as Week Ends © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – European stock markets are seen opening marginally lower Friday, ending the week on a cautious note amid political uncertainty.

At 2:25 AM ET (0725 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.2% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.2%, and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.2%.

Tensions remain high between the EU and the U.K., with the two sides locked in a standoff over how to implement the Brexit deal in Northern Ireland, despite more than three hours of talks between top officials on Thursday.

Britain has been seeking changes to the Northern Ireland protocol of the deal after checks were imposed on goods moving across the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

Staying with politics, members of Italy's 5-Star Movement voted on Thursday to back Prime Minister designate Mario Draghi, opening the way for the former European Central Bank chief to take office at the head of a broad government of national unity.

In economic news, U.K. GDP grew 1% in the fourth quarter, double what analysts expected, averting the immediate prospect of another pandemic-induced recession.

However, this still meant the U.K. economy contracted 9.9% last year, the largest fall on record, hurt by the lockdowns associated with the Covid pandemic.

Turning to the corporate sector, the banking sector will remain in focus after Dutch bank ING (AS:INGA) released fourth-quarter data, following on from rivals Credit Agricole (OTC:CRARY), UniCredit and Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) on Thursday.

The cosmetics sector will also be in the spotlight after L’Oreal (PA:OREP) beat consensus with a 4.8% rise in currency-adjusted sales in the quarter, ,albeit the performance was entirely dependent on strength in China.

Oil prices slipped lower Friday, weighed by the more cautious tone taken by a couple of influential industry bodies on the subject of demand recovery from the pandemic this year.

Both the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency cut their forecasts Thursday for world oil consumption in 2021 by 100,000 and 200,000 barrels a day, respectively, citing the lockdowns in major developed countries, particularly Europe, in the first half of the year.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% lower at $57.75 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.7% to $60.70. Both contracts closed on Wednesday at their highest levels since January 2020.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,819.50/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.2124.

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