By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open marginally higher Monday, helped by a positive tone from Asia, but caution reigns amid talk of more sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Equity markets in Asia, and Chinese technology stocks in Hong Kong, in particular, rose earlier Monday, providing a boost for Europe after Beijing announced plans to remove a key hurdle preventing full U.S. access to audits of Chinese firms listed there.
These changes may reduce the risk of Chinese firms losing their Wall Street listings, the potential of which has weighed heavily on the sector.
However, investors will be keeping a wary eye on events in Ukraine with some European Union governments thinking of new sanctions on Moscow after Ukrainian and European officials accused Russian forces of atrocities in the town of Bucha, which was denied by Russia's defense ministry.
Germany's defense minister said on Sunday that the European Union must discuss banning imports of Russian gas, a step that these European countries have so far avoided given their reliance on Moscow for energy supplies.
European producer price data for February are due later in the session and are expected to show a hefty annual rise of 27%, further illustrating the pressures the European Central Bank is under to act after data last week showed Eurozone consumer inflation hitting a fresh record high of 7.5% in March.
The ECB is set to publish the minutes of its March meeting on Thursday, and these will be studied carefully ahead of its upcoming meeting on April 14.
In corporate news, Novartis (SIX: NOVN ) is likely to be in the spotlight Monday after the Swiss drugmaker said it was integrating its pharmaceuticals and oncology units into an innovative medicines business to simplify its structure, targeting savings of at least $1 billion by 2024.
Oil prices edged higher Monday, stabilizing after last week’s hefty losses as a number of major consuming nations, led by the U.S., announced plans to release crude from their strategic reserves in an attempt to cool soaring prices.
The U.S. announced, late last week, plans to release one million barrels a day for six months, starting in May, while members of the International Energy Agency also agreed to release more oil.
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