By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open higher Thursday as investors await the latest moves in the spat with Russia over gas supplies to Europe while quarterly corporate earnings continue to emerge.
European markets were roiled Wednesday by the news that Gazprom, Russia's state-owned energy giant, has halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria until the two countries agree to Moscow’s demands to pay for the fuel in rubles, a move designed to soften the effect of Western sanctions levied after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
European Union energy ministers are set to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the situation, while the Biden administration approved more requests to export U.S. natural gas as it seeks to counteract Russia’s efforts to use the fuel as a weapon against Ukraine’s allies.
European equity markets have also suffered this month on worries that a prolonged Covid outbreak in China, the world's second largest economy, will harm domestic and global growth. Meanwhile, the hawkish pivot from the Federal Reserve has prompted fears U.S. growth will be stunted as the country’s central bank looks to tame soaring U.S. inflation.
Elsewhere, it’s another busy day for quarterly corporate earnings in Europe.
Spirits group Pernod Ricard (EPA: PERP ) posted a 20% jump in organic sales in the third quarter, helped by strong demand in its key U.S., Chinese and European markets.
Healthcare company Sanofi's (EPA: SASY ) first quarter earnings gained over 16% on continued sales growth of its bestselling drug Dupixent, telecom equipment maker Nokia (HE: NOKIA )) reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly operating profit, while IT consulting company Capgemini (EPA: CAPP ) posted on Thursday an increase in first-quarter revenue, citing growth in its cloud and data activities.
Standard Chartered's (OTC: SCBFF ) first-quarter pretax profit beat market expectations, benefiting from rising interest rates, while results from Banco de Sabadell (BME: SABE ) and Barclays (LON: BARC ) are due later in the session.
Oil prices weakened Thursday as more Covid cases were recorded in China, the world’s largest importer of crude, raising fears of more lockdowns and a big hit to fuel demand.
Data from the Energy Information Administration, released late Wednesday, showed U.S. crude oil inventories rose 692,000 barrels for the week to April 22, a smaller build than the 4.78 million barrels reported by the industry body American Petroleum Institute the day before.
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