By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open in a cautious manner Thursday ahead of the release of the latest Eurozone inflation data, which will provide clues about the future path of interest rates in the region.
Investors in Europe, as well as the U.S., have become concerned that borrowing costs are set to rise more than previously expected, weighing on future growth, as inflation has proved difficult to tame.
Markets have fully priced in a 50 basis point hike by the European Central Bank in mid-March, and are contemplating another 50 bps in May.
This puts a lot of attention on the preliminary Eurozone consumer price index for February later in the session, with median forecasts pointing to an annual figure of 8.2%, a drop from 8.6% the prior month.
Also of interest will be the release of the minutes from the ECB’s latest policy meeting, while President Christine Lagarde is set to be interviewed on Spanish television later in the session.
In the corporate sector, Anheuser Busch Inbev SA NV (EBR: ABI ), the world's largest brewer, posted a slightly larger-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter.
Merck KGaA (ETR: MRCG ) forecast its 2023 earnings would slip, with the German science and technology company warning of a decline at its electronic chemicals unit and citing a drop in COVID-related demand for its lab supplies from drug and vaccine makers.
Oil prices kept to a tight trading range Thursday as traders weighed the prospect of a recovery in Chinese fuel demand against rising crude stockpiles in the United States.
U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels last week to just over 480 million barrels, their highest level since May 2021, the Energy Information Administration reported late Wednesday.
This was the tenth consecutive week of crude stock builds in the United States, and raised questions about demand destruction in the largest consumer of crude in the world.
Chinese manufacturing activity data, also released on Wednesday, had added to evidence of an economic rebound in the world's second largest economy and largest importer of crude.
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