European stock markets are seen opening marginally lower Wednesday, handing back some of the gains from the previous session ahead of key inflation and unemployment data.
At 3:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.2% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.3%.
European stocks posted strong gains Tuesday, with the CAC 40 and Amsterdam's AEX hitting a new 52-week high and the Dax topping 15,000 points for the first time, buoyed by the lack of broader fallout from the U.S. hedge fund default that hit global banking stocks on Monday.
However, this positive tone is unlikely to last long as the region struggles to cope with a surge of new coronavirus cases, causing many countries to tighten restrictive measures. France's health ministry said on Tuesday that the number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 had reached the highest level this year, while the number of new cases saw a week-on-week increase of 6.3%, the highest such increase since the end of November.
With this in mind, investors will be watching for the latest inflation data from the euro zone in March and German unemployment data, both releases likely to be good indications on the health of the region’s economy as it battles this third wave of Covid-19 cases.
In the corporate sector, French consulting and IT services provider Capgemini (PA:CAPP) raised its mid-term margin targets on Wednesday, citing the rapidly expanding use of cloud solutions and artificial intelligence across industries.
Oil prices rose Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a grouping known as OPEC+, which is set to decide production levels into May.
A panel of experts advising the group warned that rising Covid cases and lockdowns globally are likely to hit demand growth, according to a report seen by Reuters, and thus the producers are expected to extend their supply curbs into May.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group on Tuesday showed U.S. crude oil stocks rose by 3.9 million barrels in the week to March 26, well above expectations.
Data on U.S. inventories are due on Wednesday from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% higher at $60.81 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.4% to $64.45.
Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,682.95/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1707.