European stocks cling to gains, with U.S. equity futures inching up as a volatile week winds down


European stocks struggled for traction on Friday, with U.S. equity futures slightly higher as investors weighed up fresh data from the eurozone, showing a sharp rise in business activity, but a slowdown on the manufacturing side.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index
was flat at 442.25 and indicating no change on the week. The German DAX
rose 0.1%, the French CAC 40
added 0.3%, and the FTSE 100
fell 0.5%. The pound
and euro
were steady against the dollar.

Investors were roiled by a day of selling on Wednesday, as cryptocurrency markets sold off. A rebound followed that on Thursday, and as volatility in those markets eased off.

U.S. stock futures

were rising following Thursday’s positive close that ended a three-session decline. Investors were cheered by news that weekly jobless claims fell to a COVID-19 pandemic low, while the Conference Board Leading Economic Index saw a second consecutive solid gain.

Flash Markit purchasing managers index surveys, expected later in the U.S., rolled out for the eurozone. The May flash IHS Markit purchasing managers composite output index for the region climbed to a 39-month high at 56.9, with the services index at a 35-month high. But the manufacturing PMI slipped to a two-month low at 62.8.

Analysts were expecting stronger data in Europe, especially as most countries have eased COVID-19 restrictions.

“Also, there are reports that businesses which have a greater exposure to Europe and European stocks should outperform their peers in the coming weeks and months given that the vaccination efforts are paying off and the reflation period should help increasing appetite in the region as well,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, in a note to clients.

Elsewhere, the U.K. reported a 9.2% surge in retail sales for April, a gain that doubled forecasts, with nonfood segments in the driver’s seat as the country’s COVID-19 restrictions eased up.

Shares of Cie. Financière Richemont
surged 5%, after the luxury-goods group said its core jewelry segment and Asian sales drove a fiscal-year 2021 net profit, despite a revenue decline. The luxury-goods group proposed a dividend for the year.

Shares of Deutsche Lufthansa
slid over 5%, on a report that the airline’s second-biggest shareholder, the Thiele family, will sell over half of its stake, following the death of Heinz Hermann Thiele earlier in the year, two sources told Reuters on Thursday. A Lufthansa spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Read: WHO Europe advises avoiding international travel for now as concern about vaccine inequity grows

Banks were also weaker, led by shares of HSBC

dropping 1%.

Shares of Trainline
continued to fall, dropping 2.6% a day after the U.K. government outlined a railroad infrastructure plan that would include operating a rival ticketing app.

Read: George Soros and Citadel among the winners as Trainline shares plunge

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