European stock futures lower ahead of ECB, BoE; hawkish Fed weighs

  • Stock Market News
European stock futures lower ahead of ECB, BoE; hawkish Fed weighs
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets are expected to open lower Thursday, after hawkish rhetoric from the U.S. Federal Reserve and amid caution ahead of more central banks meetings in Europe and the U.K.

At 02:00 ET (07:00 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.5% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.6% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.3%.

The Fed concluded its last policy-setting meeting of the year on Wednesday, increasing interest rates by 50 basis points, as widely expected, a step down after delivering four consecutive 75 bps hikes, but signaled more increases by the end of 2023.

Additionally, Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned that borrowing costs are likely to peak at higher-than-expected levels, given that inflation is still running well above the central bank’s target range.

“It will take substantially more evidence to have confidence that inflation is on a sustained downward” path, Powell said during his post-meeting news conference.

This prompted the main equity indices to close lower on Wall Street on Wednesday, and this negative sentiment is expected to continue in Europe on Thursday.

The stage is now set for the Bank of England and the European Central Bank , not to mention the Norges Bank and the Swiss National Bank , to deliver their latest interest rate hikes in their fights against historically high levels of inflation.

Both the BoE and the ECB are also set to tone down the size of their hikes to 50 basis points, from 75 bps last time, as European economies as a whole teeter towards recession.

Ahead of this, French consumer prices are expected to have risen 0.4% on the month in November, an annual rise of 6.2%, unchanged from the prior month, and illustrative of the sticky nature of the region’s inflation.

Also weighing on sentiment was data showing that Chinese industrial production and retail sales came in well below expectations in November, as rising COVID-19 cases and increased restrictions weighed heavily on the second largest economy in the world, and a major export market for European companies.

Crude oil prices fell Thursday, snapping a three-day rally as the hawkish tone from the Federal Reserve coupled with the weak economic data from China raised fears about demand growth in the coming months.

Also weighing was official data from the Energy Information Administration showing that U.S. crude stocks rose by a hefty 10 million barrels last week, suggesting that near-term consumption in the world’s largest economy remained subdued. 

By 02:00 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.1% lower at $76.42 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.9% to $81.97. Both contracts were still trading over 6% higher for the week, after strong gains at the start of the week. 

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.8% to $1,803.55/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% lower at 1.0655.

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