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European Stock Futures Mixed; Insurance Sector Earnings in Focus

Stock MarketsFeb 19, 2021 02:04AM ET
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By Peter Nurse - European stock markets are seen mixed at the open Friday, amid cautious trading with investors focusing on corporate earnings, mainly from the insurance sector, ahead of key PMI economic data.

At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% lower, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.1%.

The moves follow a weak session in the U.S. on Thursday, as valuation concerns resurfaced against the backdrop of a surprise rise in weekly jobless claims.

In the insurance sector, Swiss Re (OTC:SSREY) will be in the spotlight after the reinsurer recorded a net loss for 2020 as pandemic-related charges weighed upon its earnings. 

Allianz (DE:ALVG) posted a better-than-expected 2.2% fall in net profit in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, with the German insurer noting pressure on business from the coronavirus pandemic.

In France, Renault (PA:RENA) reported a record 8 billion euro ($9.68 billion) loss for 2020 as the pandemic hit sales and production at the carmaker and its Japanese partner Nissan (OTC:NSANY). Elsewhere in the industry, Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p) remains well supported after a report saying it's looking at spinning off its most valuable brand, Porsche, to unlock value.

The economic calendar is also busy Friday, with U.K. retail sales slumping 8.2% on the month in January, a far sharper drop than expected, while German PPI climbed 1.4% in the same month, better than expected.

Later in the session the final PMI data for the European region will be released, which are expected to confirm a weakening of business confidence in January as the lockdowns to combat the Covid-19 virus were in place. 

Attention will also be focused on a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven leaders, chaired by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The leaders, who will include both U.S. President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi for the first time, are expected to discuss the battered world economy as well as the group’s relationship with China, along with plans to defeat the novel coronavirus, .

Oil prices retreated Friday from 13-month highs as wells in Texas, the U.S.’s biggest oil-producing state, resumed production once the week’s unexpected wintry snap passed by.

The focus is shifting to the impact on refineries amid worries they will take time to resume operations, creating a gap in demand which will likely lead to builds in crude stocks over coming weeks.

U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected last week, before the freeze, with inventories down by 7.3 million barrels to their lowest level since March, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday.

U.S. crude futures traded 1.1% lower at $59.83 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.9% to $63.37.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,769.05/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.2094.


European Stock Futures Mixed; Insurance Sector Earnings in Focus

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