European Stock Futures Mixed; Ukraine Peace Talks, Russian Gas in Focus

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European Stock Futures Mixed; Ukraine Peace Talks, Russian Gas in Focus
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse 

Investing.com - European stock markets are expected to open in a cautious manner Friday, with investors monitoring fresh negotiations aimed at ending the war in Ukraine, the spat between Moscow and European nations over the payment of Russian gas, and key Eurozone inflation data. 

At 2:05 AM ET (0605 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.2% higher, while CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.2% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.2%.

The new month has started with European stock markets on the back foot after they suffered their biggest quarterly loss since the start of 2020, as the Russian-Ukrainian war and the associated surge in commodity prices prompted concerns of a new recession in the region.

Peace negotiations are set to resume by video conference on Friday, but previous talks have achieved very little and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Thursday of "battles ahead" in Donbas and the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that foreign buyers of Russian gas must pay in rubles or contracts would be halted, trying to hit back against sweeping Western sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine.

Western governments have rejected the move, stating the existing contracts are set in euros or dollars but Russia supplies about a third of Europe's gas, so the removal of this would likely result in a full-blown energy crisis. 

The European economic data slate includes manufacturing PMI numbers for Germany, the region’s manufacturing hub, following on from the Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers index in China falling to 48.1, the steepest rate of contraction since February 2020.

Most eyes, however, will be on the Eurozone consumer price release for March, which is expected to show another sharp rise to 6.6% on the year, and then the U.S. March jobs data later in the session.

Oil prices weakened Friday, heading for the biggest weekly loss in two years after the Biden administration ordered a massive release of crude from strategic reserves to combat soaring rampant prices.

The U.S. plans to release one million barrels a day for six months, starting in May, which would be the largest release ever from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

International Energy Agency member countries are set to meet later Friday to discuss joining in, following on from the 60 million barrels they delivered at the start of March.

By 2:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.3% lower at $99.01 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 1.1% to $103.56. The two benchmarks were each headed for a weekly loss of around 13%.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.6% to $1,937.20/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1059.

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