European stocks and U.S. equity futures struggle higher as investors look for catalysts

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Stocks in Europe were edging higher early on Wednesday, with U.S. equity futures also rising modestly ahead of a batch of data including revised growth estimates. Marks & Spencer shares rose after well-received results.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index
SXXP,
+0.18%
rose 0.3%, with the German DAX
DAX,
+0.05%
up 0.2%, the French CAC 40
PX1,
+0.25%
rising 0.2% and the FTSE 100 index
UKX,
+0.13%
up 0.2%. The pound
GBPUSD,
+0.01%
and euro
EURUSD,
-0.13%
traded slightly lower against the U.S. dollar.

Dow Jones Industrial Average
YM00,
+0.24%,
S&P 500
ES00,
+0.26%
and Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-0.03%
futures rose, following a softer close on lower Tuesday amid weaker-than-expected readings on consumer confidence and home sales. Weekly jobless claims, and revised first-quarter gross domestic product data and durable goods orders are expected on Wednesday.

Investors remain focused on the possibility that rising prices could prompt a sooner-than-expected move by the Federal Reserve to step back from its accommodative policy. That’s despite reassurances from most Fed members that they view near-term pressures as transitory. Investors will hear from Federal Reserve Vice Chair Randal Quarles on Wednesday

Meanwhile, Fabio Panetta, an executive board member at the European Central Bank said it was “clearly premature” to discuss any paring of emergency asset buying in the single currency zone even though the economic outlook is “improving.”

“From my viewpoint, the conditions that we see today do not justify reducing the pace of purchases,” Panetta said in an interview with the Nikkei that published Wednesday.

Shares of Marks & Spencer
MKS,
+4.30%
climbed 4.5%. The retailer swung to a pretax loss for fiscal 2021 on lower revenue. But it said for the first six weeks of fiscal 2022, business was ahead of a two-year-earlier comparative. Marks & Spencer also warned over continued uncertainty and rising costs due to the pandemic and Brexit, but analysts were looking at the positives.

“MKS is emerging from COVID with a stronger B/S [balance sheet] and 21/22
has started well, as improving mobility has led to 2-year stack growth in both core
categories,” said a team of analysts at Jefferies led by James Grzinic.

Shares of Spire Healthcare
SPI,
+24.61%
surged 25% after Australian multinational healthcare group, Ramsay Health Care
RHC,
-0.65%
said it would buy the independent hospital group for 240 pence per share in cash.

Shares of Johnson Matthey
JMAT,
+0.41%
rose 1% after the chemicals and sustainable-technologies company announced a partnership with U.S.-based Plug Power
PLUG,
+2.24%
to develop improved hydrogen electrolysers. Plug Power is a leading manufacturer of electrolysers used to manufacture green hydrogen. 



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