By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open in a cautious manner Tuesday after a long weekend, with investors focusing on developments in Ukraine as Russia intensifies its assault in the east of the country.
Moscow has refocused its ground offensive in Ukraine's two eastern provinces, known as the Donbas, in what Ukrainian officials described as the second phase of the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had begun the "Battle of Donbas" in the east and a "very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive."
Donbas has been the focal point of Russia's campaign to destabilize Ukraine, with Moscow declaring the two regions as republics in late February and is home to much of the country's industrial wealth, including coal and steel.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled global markets, forcing many commodity prices higher and prompting fears of stagflation, particularly in Europe, which relies heavily on Russian energy.
The World Bank lowered on Monday its global growth forecast for 2022 by nearly a full percentage point, to 3.2% from 4.1%, citing the impact of the war.
European investors returning after the Easter weekend will also have to digest Friday’s decision of the People's Bank of China to cut the reserve requirement for all banks by 25 basis points to try and cushion a sharp slowdown in the world's second largest economy.
That said, China's gross domestic product beat expectations on Monday, with a 4.8% increase in the first quarter from a year earlier.
In corporate news, Rolls-Royce (OTC: RYCEY ) may be in the spotlight Tuesday after the news that the company’s design for a small modular nuclear reactor will likely receive UK regulatory approval by mid-2024 and be able to produce grid power by 2029.
However, most eyes will be on earnings on Wall Street later in the session, with the likes of Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT ) among the companies reporting Tuesday.
Oil prices edged higher Tuesday as political demonstrations in Libya prompted more concerns over the tight global supply with the OPEC member forced to halt some exports.
Libya’s Sharara field, which can pump 300,000 barrels a day, has been closed due to a wave of protests, with the country saying it could not deliver oil from its biggest oil field.
By 2 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% lower at $107.22 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.2% to $112.90. Both benchmarks gained more than 1% in the previous session after hitting their highest level since March 28.
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