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European stocks mixed ahead of Fed decision; H&M slumps

Published 31/01/2024, 07:38 pm
© Reuters.

Investing.com - European stock markets traded in a mixed fashion Wednesday, as investors digested a deluge of corporate earnings and regional inflation data ahead of the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s first meeting of the year.

At 03:30 ET (08:30 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.1% lower, the FTSE 100 in the U.K. fell 0.2%, while the CAC 40 in France traded up 0.1%.

French inflation, German retail sales in focus

French consumer prices fell in January, raising the likelihood that the European Central Bank could start easing monetary policy more quickly than previously envisioned.

French CPI dropped 0.2% in January on a monthly basis, resulting in an annual rise of 3.1%, a drop from 3.7% the prior month.

German inflation is due later in the session, before Thursday’s eurozone figure, and a significant retreat could influence ECB policymakers given growth in the region is hard to find.

Data released earlier this week showed that the eurozone barely escaped entering a recession in the second half of 2023, but the German economy, which dominates the bloc, shrank in the final three months of 2023.

Additionally, German retail sales slumped 1.6% on the month in December, suggesting the country’s consumers remain under extreme stress.

However, trading ranges are likely to be tight Wednesday ahead of the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy-setting meeting later in the session.

The U.S. central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged investors will be looking for clues over when rate cuts are likely to start.

H&M appoints new CEO

The corporate sector will also be in the spotlight Wednesday, as the quarterly earnings season hits full stride.

H&M (ST:HMb) stock slumped 91% after Europe’s second-largest fashion retailer appointed a new chief executive officer, Daniel Erver, to shake up operations after operating profit for the September-November period came in below expectations.

Santander (BME:SAN) stock rose 1.2% after the Spanish lender posted a record high profit for the last quarter of 2023, as strong lending income in Europe and Brazil helped it offset a loss in Argentina.

GSK (LON:GSK) stock fell 0.7% after the British drugmaker's 2023 net profits slumped, after a vast gain from the spin-off of its consumer healthcare unit Haleon skewed results of the previous year.

Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) stock rose 1.9% after the Danish drugmaker reported fourth-quarter operating profit above expectations and also forecast another year of double-digit record sales and operating profit growth due to its popular weight-loss drug Wegovy.

Investors will also be studying results from some of the U.S. tech giants that have dominated trading activity of the last year or so, with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) beating market estimates for quarterly profit and revenue while Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) disappointed as holiday-season advertising sales came in below expectations.

Crude slips after weak Chinese manufacturing PMI

Oil prices slipped lower Wednesday, as disappointing manufacturing activity data from China, the world's biggest crude importer, weighed on demand sentiment.

By 03:30 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $77.63 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.3% to $82.25 a barrel.

The official Chinese manufacturing PMI release showed the world's second-largest economy contracted for a fourth straight month in January, raising further doubts about the strength of the economic recovery of this vital crude market.

That said, the crude benchmarks are still on course for their first monthly gain since September as broadening Middle East conflicts raised supply concerns from this oil-rich region.

U.S. inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute indicated that crude stockpiles dropped by 2.5 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 26, if this is confirmed by official data later in the session.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.3% to $2,056.65/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.0820.

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