European stock futures lower; U.K. retail sales rise in June

by Victor

European stock markets are expected to open lower Friday, following the previous session’s sharp selloff in the tech sector on Wall Street and amid concerns of an economic slowdown.

At 02:00 ET (06:00 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.6% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.1% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.1%.


U.K. retail sales rise more than expected

Britain’s retail sales data for June leads a light global economic calendar Friday, and showed growth of 0.7% on the month, more than the expected 0.2%, but this still represents an annual drop of 1%.


This followed the release late Thursday of the July GfK consumer confidence gauge, which fell for the first time in six months, suggesting the reality of soaring inflation is starting to hit the U.K. consumer.

This could weigh heavily on economic growth as the year progresses, as the Bank of England is widely expected to continue its rate-hiking campaign next month given inflation remains well above target, even after slowing more than expected in June.

The European Central Bank is also widely expected to raise its benchmark rate at its next meeting, but its policymakers are in a blackout period ahead of next week’s rate decision.

Thales lifts sales outlook

The quarterly earnings season continues Friday, although at a slightly slower pace as the week comes to an end.

Thales (EPA:TCFP) will be in focus after the French aerospace company upgraded its sales outlook after a solid first half, with the current geopolitical uncertainty likely to boost defense spending.

That said, the tech sector will also be in the spotlight after the Nasdaq Composite index fell nearly 300 points on Wall Street Thursday.

Additionally, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission withdrew its case seeking to block Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s $69 billion acquisition of game-maker Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), making the takeover more likely to proceed.

Oil prices rise on hopes of more Chinese support

Crude prices rose Friday, closing a volatile week with gains on rising hopes that China, the world’s largest crude importer, will roll out more stimulus measures to support its stuttering economic recovery.

The country revealed disappointing second-quarter growth numbers earlier this week, prompting Beijing to unveil new measures on Friday aimed at promoting local spending, and raising expectations of more widespread support.

That said, caution ahead of next week’s Fed meeting has stymied any major gains, especially as the dollar rebounded from a 15-month low amid positioning for the meeting.

By 02:00 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $76.27 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.8% to $80.27. Both contracts are on course for gains of around 1% this week.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,972.65/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1140.

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