European stocks edge higher; UK retail sales slump

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European stocks edge higher; UK retail sales slump - European stock markets rose Friday, continuing the tech-inspired global rally as investors shake off the negative sentiment from earlier in the week. 

At 03:20 ET (08:20 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.5% higher, the CAC 40 in France traded up 0.5% and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.8%.

Tech stocks drive global gains

European equities have taken their lead from the strong gains on Wall Street overnight, with the benchmark S&P 500 index close to record highs as AI optimism drove gains in a number of chipmakers.

Additionally, Asian stocks benefited from a strong growth forecast by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM ), the world's largest contract semiconductor maker.

That said, the main European indices are still set for weekly losses on growing doubts that major central banks, and the Federal Reserve in particular, will agree to early interest rate cuts as inflation remains sticky.

U.K. consumer prices rose to 4.0% on an annual basis in December earlier in the week, increasing for the first time in 10 months.

That said, growth is proving hard to find in Europe, with U.K. retail sales falling 3.2% on the month in December, the biggest drop for almost three years, raising the risk that the economy entered recession in the fourth quarter.

Lagarde takes the stage at Davos

Further data is limited in Europe Friday, and thus most attention will be on the close of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will be the star turn later Friday, speaking for the second time this week. She downplayed expectations for early rate cuts on Wednesday, and it seems unlikely she'll backtrack today.

Deliveroo (OTC: DROOF ) set to beat 2023 guidance

In the corporate sector, Deliveroo (LON: ROO ) stock rose 0.7% after the food delivery company said its 2023 earnings were set to come in above the top end of expectations, citing resilient demand from its customers.

This contrasted with the disappointing update from rival Just Eat Takeaway (AS: TKWY ) earlier this week, which said orders fell 6% in the U.K. last year and as much as 16% in Southern Europe.

Crude set for weekly gains 

Oil prices edged higher Friday, and are on course for a positive week on the back of elevated geopolitical tensions as well as disruptions in U.S. oil production from a winter storm.

By 03:20 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.2% higher at $74.09 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.1% to $79.20 a barrel. Both benchmarks are on course for weekly gains of between 1% and 2%.

Cold weather has shut-in around 40% of oil output in North Dakota, a top oil-producing U.S. state, supporting the overall market, while tankers continued to be diverted away from the Red Sea as tensions in the region continued to disrupt global shipping and trade.

Also helping the market was the news that the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected draw in crude inventories of 2.5 million barrels, but gasoline and distillate inventories rose to multi-year highs.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.4% to $2,028.85/oz, while EUR/USD traded largely flat at 1.0874.


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