By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open in a mixed fashion Friday, ending the week on a cautious note as the Ukraine war rages on and energy prices remain elevated.
The war in Ukraine, sparked by the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, has already killed thousands of people and driven around 3.6 million abroad, according to data from the United Nations.
Western leaders denounced Moscow's invasion as barbaric after talks in Brussels on Thursday, with the U.S. warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin could resort to the use of biological or chemical weapons as his campaign struggles.
Weighing on the European markets Friday was weakness in Asia overnight, with tech stocks being particularly hard hit in Hong Kong on renewed fears that many will be forced to delist in the United States.
Back in Europe, British retail sales surprisingly dropped 0.3% on the month in February, registering annual growth of 7.0%, as the country’s important retail sector struggled to bounce back from the COVID-inspired restrictions of late last year.
Also of interest will be the release of the German Ifo business climate index for March, due later in the session, as a guide of the strength of the Eurozone’s largest economy.
Oil prices stabilized at high levels Friday, with traders keeping a wary eye on the discussions between European Union countries over a potential embargo on Russian oil as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.
So far, the EU has not blocked the importation of Russian crude into the bloc, unlike the U.S., but as the war drags on, there’s likely to be a growing willingness to use Russian energy supplies as a weapon.
Elsewhere, the United States and its allies were said to be discussing a possible further coordinated release of oil from storage.
By 3:10 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $112.36 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.1% to $119.16. Both contracts were still on course for their first weekly gains in three weeks, with Brent around 10% higher and WTI up 7%.
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