European stocks edge higher; Chinese growth target, Eurozone retail sales in focus

  • Stock Market News
European stocks edge higher; Chinese growth target, Eurozone retail sales in focus

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets edged higher Monday, but gains were tepid as investors digested China setting a modest growth target for economic growth this year ahead of the release of Eurozone retail sales data. 

At 03:40 ET (08:40 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.3% higher, the CAC 40 in France climbed 0.5%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. traded largely flat.

European equities kicked off the new week in a hesitant fashion after Chinese government officials set a 5% economic growth target for 2023 over the weekend, at the start of the annual session of the National People's Congress.

The Chinese economy , a significant export market for European companies, grew just 3% last year, one of the slowest rates of growth in almost half a century as the economy was hamstrung by severe COVID-19 restrictions.

However, recent data showed that Chinese business activity rebounded sharply in February after the relaxing of the anti-COVID restrictions, and expectations were for a more substantial 2023 growth target.

Back in Europe, the main economic release Monday is the January retail sales figure for the Eurozone. This is expected to show growth of 1.0% on the month, a recovery from the fall of 2.7% the prior month.

This still represents an annual fall of 1.8%, a minor improvement from the 2.8% year-on-year drop in December, as high prices impact discretionary spending by consumers. 

Also of interest will be Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's two-day testimony before the U.S. Congress, on Tuesday and Wednesday, ahead of Friday’s jobs report for February that could dictate sentiment ahead of the U.S. central bank’s policy-setting meeting later this month.

In the corporate sector, Telecom Italia (BIT: TLIT ) stock rose 3.8% after the Italian state investor CDP bid for the fixed-line network of the former phone monopoly over the weekend, creating a potential bidding war with U.S. investment firm KKR (NYSE: KKR ).

Credit Suisse (SIX: CSGN ) stock fell 1.3% after the troubled bank lost one of its top backers with Harris Associates confirming it has sold its stake in the Swiss lender over the past few months.

Oil prices retreated Monday after China set a lower-than-expected target for economic growth this year, disappointing traders who were banking on strong growth from the largest crude importer in the world to boost crude demand.

By 03:40 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $79.52 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.2% to $85.62. 

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,859.15/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.0650.

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