By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open slightly lower Tuesday, ahead of the release of key regional inflation data which could heighten concerns about the pace and scale of looming interest rate hikes.
Figures from France and Italy are expected later in today’s session, but the focus will be on the latest Eurozone inflation flash estimate, at 5 AM ET (0900 GMT), with economists expecting the consumer price index to hit another record high of 7.7% in May, up from 7.4% in April.
This data arrives just over a week before a crucial European Central Bank meeting where officials are set to announce the conclusion of large-scale asset purchases and confirm plans to raise interest rates in July for the first time in more than a decade.
ECB President Christine Lagarde indicated last week that the central bank’s deposit rate should start rising in July, and a hefty rise in Eurozone CPI could strengthen the case for an outsized interest rate hike.
Earlier in the day, data showed that China's factory activity fell at a slower pace in May as COVID-19 curbs in major manufacturing hubs eased, with the official manufacturing purchasing managers' index rising to 49.6 in May from 47.4 in April.
However, this was still below the 50 level that marks the line between expansion and contraction as mobility controls continued to weigh on demand and production, raising concerns about economic growth in the world’s second-largest economy in the second quarter.
In corporate news, Cineworld (LON: CINE ) is likely to stay in focus after the cinema chain posted strong stock gains on Monday, benefiting from the popularity of the sequel of the 1986 classic “Top Gun”.
“Top Gun: Maverick” took in $156 million in the U.S. and Canada over the long Memorial Day weekend, a box-office record for the holiday, and also looks to be in demand in the U.K.
Oil prices extended gains Tuesday, recording new two-month highs after the European Union agreed to substantially reduce oil imports from Russia, tightening an already strained crude market.
The EU agreed in principle late Monday to cut 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022, managing to resolve a deadlock with Hungary over the bloc's toughest sanction yet on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
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