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European Stocks Higher; French, U.K. Employment Data Helps Tone

Stock Markets May 17, 2022 03:58AM ET
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By Peter Nurse

Investing.com - European stock markets traded higher Tuesday, helped by some solid regional employment data but worries over a fragile global economic recovery remain high.

By 4 AM ET (0800 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 1.1% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 1%, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.4%.

European equities have weakened over the last month, with the DAX down 1.2%, the CAC 40 down 3.7%, and the FTSE 100 down 2%, on concerns that higher interest rates to combat inflation, COVID lockdowns in China, and the war on Ukraine will stunt the global economic recovery.

However, the tone turned more optimistic Tuesday, helped by the French unemployment rate falling to the lowest rate in 14 years in the first quarter, dropping to 7.3%. 

At the same time, Britain's unemployment rate fell to its lowest since 1974 at 3.7% in the first three months of this year, with the U.K. claimant count falling just less than 57,000 in April.

Later in the session, the second estimate of Eurozone gross domestic product for the first quarter is expected to show modest 0.2% growth on the quarter, up 5.0% on the year.

That said, those data releases are historic, and the more up-to-date New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing index showed an abrupt fall during May on Monday.

The war in Ukraine remains a key focus for investors, with Kyiv stating on Monday that its troops defending the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv, had repelled Russian forces and advanced as far as the border with Russia.

Additionally, Finland and Sweden are set to deliver their formal applications at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels this week.

In the corporate sector, Vodafone (LON:VOD) stock fell 1.5% after the mobile operator forecast earnings growth for the current year below market expectations, citing a difficult economic backdrop.

On the flip side, Imperial Brands (LON:IMB) stock jumped 6% with the tobacco giant reporting a marginal increase in first-half sales even after taking a big hit on exiting Russia.

ContourGlobal (LON:GLO) stock soared 33% after U.S. private company KKR agreed to buy the power generation company for 1.75 billion pounds ($2.16 billion) in a bid to expand its renewable energy portfolio

Oil prices stabilized Tuesday after the European Union failed to unanimously agree on an import ban on Russian crude, a move that would further tighten global supply.

EU foreign ministers failed in their attempts on Monday to get Hungary to lift its veto of the bloc’s proposed oil embargo on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The proposal will now require more negotiations, bringing its actual implementation into doubt.

Investors now await U.S. crude oil supply data from the American Petroleum Institute, due later in the day.

By 4 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% lower to $111.75 a barrel, while the Brent contract edged lower to $114.20. Both benchmarks gained more than 2% on Monday, adding to Friday’s 4% increase.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,823.04/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0460.

 
European Stocks Higher; French, U.K. Employment Data Helps Tone
 

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