European stock futures higher; German CPI, Credit Suisse in focus

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European stock futures higher; German CPI, Credit Suisse in focus
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets are expected to edge higher at the open Thursday, as investors digested the latest German inflation data as well as the continuation of the quarterly corporate earnings season.

At 02:00 ET (07:00 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.7% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.5%, while the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.3%.

The German consumer price index for January, which had been delayed due to technical reasons, rose 1% on the month, more than expected, but the annual figure only rose to 8.7%, below the 8.9% expected, data showed Thursday. 

Investors, both in Europe and the U.S., have been searching for signs that inflation is peaking, so central bankers can start reining in their aggressive interest rate hikes.

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by half a percentage point last week and signaled a move of the same size for next month. 

"If underlying inflation pressures do not materially abate, maintaining the current pace of hikes into May could well remain warranted," ECB policymaker Klaas Knot said on Wednesday.

Across the pond, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell struck a less hawkish tone than feared on Tuesday. But a number of his colleagues, including Fed Governor Christopher Waller , were keen to emphasize Wednesday that the central bank is yet to be finished with its hiking cycle, saying “we have farther to go” to fight inflation. 

Back in Europe, the quarterly earnings season continues unabated.

Credit Suisse (SIX: CSGN ) is likely to be in the spotlight after the scandal-hit Swiss lender booked an annual loss of CHF7.29 billion (CHF1 = $1.0881), the worst mark since the 2008 financial crisis and its second-straight yearly loss.

Switzerland's second-largest bank posted a net loss of CHF1.39B for the three months until the end of December, a drop of 33% year-on-year. 

ArcelorMittal (AS: MT ), the world's second-largest steelmaker, reported fourth-quarter core profit of $1.26B, down from $5.05B a year before, but said it expects its steel shipments to increase by around 5% this year.

Quarterly numbers are also scheduled from the likes of AstraZeneca (LON: AZN ) and Unilever (LON: ULVR ).

Oil prices steadied Thursday near two-week highs, despite U.S. crude stocks hitting their highest level for months, raising fears of weakening demand in the world's largest economy.

Crude oil stocks in the United States rose 5 million barrels last week to their highest since June 2021, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. 

By 02:00 ET, U.S. crude futures drifted higher to $78.48 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.1% to $85.16. 

Both contracts are up over 3% this week on optimism over a demand recovery in China and following supply disruptions caused by an earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Additionally, gold futures traded largely flat at $1,890.55/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.0729.

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