European stocks higher; sentiment positive despite weak U.K. GDP data

  • Stock Market News
European stocks higher; sentiment positive despite weak U.K. GDP data
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets edged higher Thursday, boosted by improving consumer sentiment despite weak U.K. growth data.

At 04:05 ET (09:05 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.3% higher, the FTSE 100 in the U.K. climbed 0.5%, and CAC 40 in France traded up 0.4%.

There has been a degree of optimism in the European markets heading into the holiday period, with equities boosted by a small improvement in German consumer sentiment on Wednesday followed by a rebound in U.S. consumer confidence .

This is helping promote the idea that the economic slowdown expected for the region at the start of 2023 may not be as bad as feared.

That said, final data released earlier Thursday showed that Britain's gross domestic product fell by more than initially indicated in the third quarter, down 0.3% on the quarter, putting Britain’s economy at the bottom of the Group of Seven major advanced nations ahead of what is shaping up to be a dismal 2023.

The BoE hiked interest rates, along with the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve , last week as part of its prolonged attempt to curb inflation running near 40-year highs.

While tightening monetary policy, the central bank warned in November that the U.K. risked being plunged into the longest recession in 100 years.

In corporate news, Renault (EPA: RENA ) stock fell 0.9% after the French carmaker issued a ¥210 billion ($1 = ¥132) bond that will mature in December 2026, largely aimed at Japanese investors.

Additionally, shares in European chipmaking companies, including ASML Holding (AS: ASML ) and ASM International (AS: ASMI ), fell on Thursday after U.S. peer Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU ) announced a raft of job cuts next year and unveiled a reduction to its capital spending plans.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the U.S. Congress in person on Wednesday, seeking more assistance for his country's war effort.

In his first trip outside Ukraine since Russia invaded the country over 300 days ago, Zelenskyy appealed for bipartisan support with the Republican party set to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in early January.

Oil prices rose Thursday, climbing for the fourth straight session after U.S. inventories data pointed to tight supplies in the biggest consumer in the world ahead of the travel-heavy holiday season.

U.S. crude stocks fell by just under 6M barrels in the week to Dec. 16, according to official data from the Energy Information Administration , released on Wednesday.

Helping the gains Thursday is the forecast for a deep chill to hit large parts of the United States as the year comes to an end, boosting the need for heating oil , with low temperatures expected as far south as Texas and Florida.

By 04:05 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.1% higher at $79.12 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.9% to $82.97.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,826.05/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0635.

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