By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets largely edged higher Friday, with the energy-heavy U.K. market underperforming, in cautious trading ahead of the release of key U.S. inflation data.
Equity markets in Europe are on course to post a positive week, with the DAX, CAC 40, and FTSE 100, all around 2% higher so far, as investors sought out bargains after a series of weekly losses while also taking comfort from Federal Reserve minutes suggesting the central bank could slow down its tightening if it sees signs inflation is on a downward trend.
This brings the release of the personal consumption expenditure index, due later Friday, into close focus, with the last PCE showing a hefty 6.6% jump over one year.
Still, this positive sentiment in Europe remains fragile, with European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde pointing to a tightening of monetary policy in July even as the war in Ukraine threatens to curb economic growth within the region.
In corporate news, heavily-weighted BP (NYSE: BP ) stock fell 1.2% and Shell (LON: SHEL ) stock dropped 0.7% after the U.K. government announced on Thursday that it will impose a 25% windfall tax on the oil and gas sector to support Britons facing a record squeeze on living standards.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said this package will have a “minimal” impact on inflation, but there are concerns that the extra spending will see historic price gains accelerate even further, causing the Bank of England to tighten monetary policy further.
Oil prices stabilized Friday, hovering around a two-month high, supported by expected demand growth at the start of the summer driving season in the United States.
Also propping up the market is the continued expectation that the European Commission will eventually obtain unanimous support of all 27 bloc member states for its proposed new sanctions against Russia, despite Hungary’s opposition to-date.
By 4:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded flat at $114.07 a barrel, after gaining 3.4% during the previous session, while the Brent contract traded 0.2% higher at $114.34, after a gain of 2.7% on Thursday.
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