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European Stock Futures Edge Higher; U.K. Budget in Focus

Stock MarketsMar 03, 2021 07:03
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By Peter Nurse - European stock markets are seen edging higher at the open Wednesday, as attention turns to the annual U.K. budget statement and the country’s taxation and spending plans.

At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.5% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.5% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.6%.

Britain has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has suffered the biggest death toll in Europe and the restriction measures put in place to combat the virus resulted in the mainly services-based economy shrinking by 10% last year, its worst slump in three centuries.

Against this backdrop, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has been tasked with steering the country through what the government has said will be the final stages of these restrictions, while avoiding any further damage to battered public finances.

Sunak has already announced that his furlough scheme, aimed at keeping people paid and in jobs while businesses are closed, will be extended until the end of September, even with the benefit of Europe's fastest vaccination program.

Elsewhere, China’s services sector activity grew at its slowest pace in ten months in February, according to the Caixin services purchasing managers’ index, following another Covid outbreak at the start of the year. By contrast, India's grew at its fastest in a year.

February services PMI data for much of Europe are expected later in the session, and are also expected to suffer a step backwards given the restrictions currently in place throughout the continent.

In corporate news, earnings come from the likes of Vivendi (OTC:VIVHY), Stellantis NV (MI:STLA), Prudential (NYSE:PUK) and Persimmon (LON:PSN).

Oil prices edged higher Wednesday, shrugging off a sharp rise in U.S. inventories, amid cautious optimism about returning demand as global vaccination programs ramp up. 

Thursday sees the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, a grouping known as OPEC+, get together to discuss global supply. The market widely expects them to raise output, probably by around 1.5 million barrels per day, given the recent price rises and generally positive oil market outlook.

At the same time, the American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude stocks rose surprisingly by 7.4 million barrels in the week to Feb. 26. The figures reflect the closure of many refineries last week due to the cold snap.

Official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration are due later in the session.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% higher at $60.00 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.5% to $63.02. 

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,731.15/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.2086.


European Stock Futures Edge Higher; U.K. Budget in Focus

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