European stocks edge higher; Davos, German GDP in focus

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European stocks edge higher; Davos, German GDP in focus - European stock markets edged higher Monday, with activity limited due to a U.S. holiday and the start of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. 

At 03:15 ET (08:15 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.1% higher, the CAC 40 in France traded up 0.1% and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.1%.

German GDP seen contracting

European equity markets have continued the positive tone seen at the end of last week, amid confidence that central banks will start cutting interest rates pretty quickly this year as inflation retreats.

Data released Friday showed that U.S. producer prices unexpectedly fell in December, while the November release was revised lower, auguring well for lower inflation in the months ahead.

Back in Europe, consumer inflation rose to 2.9% in December, reversing six months of consecutive falls, but this rise is widely seen as a blip with growth hard to find in the euro zone.

Germany’s gross domestic product data for 2023 will be released later Monday, and is expected to show that the eurozone’s largest economy contracted last year.

Leaders gather at Davos 

That said, activity is likely to be limited Monday with the U.S. on holiday, and with the world’s economic leaders gathering in Davos for the latest World Economic Forum .

A survey of economists, conducted each year ahead of the Davos meeting, suggested that the global economy faces a year of subdued growth prospects and uncertainty stemming from geopolitical strife, tight financing conditions and the disruptive impact of artificial intelligence.

Atos issues free cash flow warning

In the corporate sector, Atos (EPA: ATOS ) stock slumped 14% after the French technology company warned earlier Monday that its free cash flow would be slightly below its initial target for the second half of the year, while naming Paul Saleh as its new chief executive.

The U.S. banking sector will remain in focus this week, with Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) and Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW ) due to report on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, after a mixed bag of earnings from big lenders on Friday.

Major U.S. banks reported lower profits in a choppy fourth quarter clouded by special charges and job cuts, with signs an income boost from high interest rates is waning and some consumer loans are starting to sour.

Crude edges higher with the Middle East in focus

Oil prices edged higher, adding to last week’s gains, as tensions in the Middle East remain fraught, threatening disruptions to supplies through a key shipping route between Europe and Asia.

By 03:15 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $72.82 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.1% to $78.38 a barrel.

The benchmarks jumped more than 2% last week to touch their highest intraday levels this year after the United States and Britain carried out the strikes on the Houthi forces in Yemen in retaliation for attacks by the Iran-backed group on shipping in the Red Sea.

The Houthi group threatened a "strong and effective response" on Sunday, potentially escalating the situation which has seen several shipping operators suspend routes through the Red Sea. 

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.4% to $2,059.40/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0960.


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