By Scott Kanowsky
Investing.com -- Stocks in Europe advanced slightly to begin the trading week, with investors looking ahead to fresh comments from European Central Bank officials and a raft of new economic data.
At 03:10 ET (08:10 GMT), the pan-European Stoxx 600 increased 0.40%, the DAX index in Germany traded 0.74% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose by 0.45%, and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. gained 0.22%. Broader Asian stocks also moved up slightly, although market holidays dulled trading volumes across most of the region.
Several ECB policymakers are due to make appearances this week before they enter the traditional blackout period on Thursday. The central bank will hold its next policy meeting on Feb. 2.
On Monday, ECB board member Fabio Panetta is scheduled to deliver remarks to the European Parliament. His speech will come after ECB president Christine Lagarde said that the institution will "stay the course" on its recent aggressive interest rate hikes . Lagarde argued at the World Economic Forum in Davos that prices in the Eurozone remain "way too high" despite optimism that inflation may have peaked.
Governing Council member Klaas Knot also said over the weekend the ECB should raise rates by half a percentage point at its next two meetings, adding that the time to slow down monetary tightening remains "far away."
Meanwhile, Eurozone data could give further indications of the health of the wider economy. The bloc will release flash PMI data on Tuesday that is expected to tick higher, while the closely-watched German Ifo business climate index on Wednesday is seen improving for a second month.
The U.S. is to publish a first estimate of fourth quarter gross domestic product on Thursday. Analysts estimate that the world's largest economy expanded by an annualized rate of 2.6%, after 3.2% in the third quarter.
In corporate news, Finland's Nokia Oyj (HE: NOKIA ) has signed a multi-year licensing patent deal with electronics giant Samsung (KS: 005930 ), claiming the agreement is in step with its prior financial guidance. Shares in the telecom company rose following the announcement.
Analysts at Deutsche Bank raised their rating of Primark-owner Associated British Foods PLC (LON: ABF ) to buy from hold, predicting that there will be an upturn in earnings estimates for the company thanks to an expected reversal in foreign exchange and energy price headwinds. Shares in AB Foods jumped by more than 1.30%.
Saga (LON: SAGA ) confirmed media reports that it is in talks to sell Acromas, the underwriter that is part of its wider insurance business. Shares in the British insurance and travel firm catering to over-50s were nearly 3% higher in early dealmaking.
Attention in oil markets is honing in on both the outlook for a recovery in demand in China as the country reopens from strict COVID-19 measures, as well as risks to Russian production in 2023. By 03:10 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.04% lower at $81.61 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.31% to $87.36 a barrel.
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