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European stocks mixed; Spanish inflation rises while U.K. labor market cools

Published 12/09/2023, 09:00
© Reuters.
- - European stock markets traded in a mixed fashion Tuesday, with investors digesting U.K. jobs and Spanish inflation data ahead of the latest policy-setting meeting by the European Central Bank later in the week.

At 03:55 ET (07:55 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.2% lower, and the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.4%.

U.K. wage pressures remain severe

Data released earlier Tuesday showed that the U.K. unemployment rate rose to 4.3% in July, from 4.2% the previous month, while the August claimant count rose just 900 in August.

However, despite these signs of a weakening of the U.K. labor market, average earnings still rose 7.8%, suggesting the Bank of England still has to contend with wage-based inflationary pressures when it meets next week.

BOE policymaker Catherine Mann warned late Monday that it's too soon to stop raising rates, and the central bank is widely expected to hike by another 25 basis points.

Spanish inflation rises in August

Ahead of the BOE, the ECB meets later this week amid a great deal of uncertainty over the outcome as price pressures remain elevated while data shows economic activity is now slowing sharply.

The latest Spanish inflation data showed consumer prices rose 2.6% in the year through August, driven by the increased cost of fuel, up from a 2.3% increase during the 12 months through July.

The reading confirmed the flash estimate released two weeks ago.

There was some good news Tuesday, as German wholesale prices fell for the fifth month in a row in August, dropping by 2.7% in August compared to the same month last year.

The ECB has raised rates at each of its past nine meetings and policymakers are now debating whether to raise the deposit rate again, to 4%, or pause.

U.S. inflation data also in spotlight

There’s also inflation data due this week in the U.S., with Wednesday seeing the release of the August consumer price index.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to forgo a hike again next week, but policymakers will be keen to see that inflation is playing ball, with core CPI expected to fall to 4.3% growth on an annual basis.

AB Foods lifts full-year outlook

In corporate news, Associated British Foods (LON:ABF) stock rose 1.1% after the Primark owner raised its full-year profit outlook for the second time in four months, underpinned by strong trading at its fast-fashion clothing and food operations.

Smurfit Kappa (LON:SKG) stock slumped over 8% after the terms of the merger deal were announced between the Irish company and its U.S. peer WestRock (NYSE:WRK), in order to create a leader in global packaging, to be known as Smurfit WestRock. 


Crude continues to firm ahead of OPEC report

Oil prices rose Tuesday, maintaining the positive tone generated by Saudi Arabia and Russia extending their voluntary supply cuts to the end of the year ahead of the release of the monthly OPEC report.

Traders are keenly awaiting a monthly report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, due later in the day, especially for forecasts of Chinese demand, amid dwindling bets that the country will drive oil demand to record highs this year. 

Industry data on U.S. crude stocks from the American Petroleum Institute are due later in the session, and are expected to continue the recent run of draws.

By 03:55 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.2% higher at $87.47 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.1% to $90.73, continuing to trade above $90 a barrel after reaching this level last week for the first time in 10 months.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,941.85/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% lower at 1.0715.


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