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European stocks edge higher; German economic woes limit gains

Published 23/02/2024, 08:08
© Reuters.
- - European stock markets traded marginally higher Friday, consolidating after the previous session’s Nvidia-inspired gains, as the quarterly corporate earnings season continued. 

At 03:05 ET (08:05 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded largely unchanged, the CAC 40 in France traded up 0.1% and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. gained 0.3%.

German recession concerns weigh

European equities posted strong gains on Thursday as Nvidia's (NASDAQ:NVDA) blockbuster quarterly report boosted global sentiment, with the pan-European benchmark Stoxx 600 index closing at a record high.

However, the market has struggled to push further higher in Europe Friday, as data has shown that the region’s economic situation continues to look troubling.

German GDP fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter, data released earlier Friday confirmed. Because GDP stagnated in the second and third quarters, the eurozone's largest economy was able to avoid another technical recession, commonly defined as two successive quarters of contraction.

However, the Bundesbank said, in a regular monthly report on Monday, that Germany is likely in recession now as external demand is weak, consumers remain cautious and domestic investment is held back by high borrowing costs.

The German Ifo business climate index for February is due later in the session, and is expected to show only minor gains in business confidence this month.

U.K. consumer confidence dipped in February, new survey data from GfK showed Friday, indicating that high inflation continues to weigh on hopes of an economic upturn.

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There are more earnings for investors to digest Friday.

Standard Chartered (LON:STAN) stock rose 0.8% after the Asia-facing lender announced a $1 billion share repurchase program along with a 18% rise on annual pretax profit for 2023.

Allianz (ETR:ALVG) stock fell 1.8% after the German insurer nearly doubled its fourth-quarter net profit from a year earlier, bugt this was still slightly below expectations. The company also unveiled a €1 billion share buyback.

BASF (ETR:BASFN) stock rose 3% after Europe’s biggest chemicals company said earnings will partially recover this year as it deepens cost-cuts to counter elevated energy expenses and a slump in demand. 

Crude set for losing week

Oil prices retreated Friday, and are set for a losing week as concerns over sluggish demand largely offset bets on tighter supplies due to disruptions in the Middle East.

By 03:05 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% lower at $78.21 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.4% to $83.30 a barrel. 

Both contracts are set to end the week around 1% lower as a string of weak economic readings from across the globe spurred more concerns over slowing demand, while expectations of higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates also weighed.

These losses were still limited by some expectations of tighter supplies. Official data showed U.S. oil inventories grew less than expected last week, while a string of refineries resumed production after an extended winter break.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.1% to $2,031.55/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0830.


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