By Peter Nurse
biedexmarkets.com – European stock markets are expected to open higher Wednesday, as investors gear up for the start in earnest of the region’s quarterly earnings season, with the retail sector in focus.
At 02:00 ET (07:00 GMT), the contract in Germany traded 0.3% higher, in France climbed 0.2% and the contract in the U.K. rose 0.2%.
European company results kick-off on Wednesday, with the retail sector in particular focus, as J Sainsbury (LON:) and JD Sports (LON:) report quarterly numbers.
The sector is widely expected to have a difficult time coming, with consumer demand set to suffer in 2023 as growth in many European economies slows.
The Bank of England has already confirmed that the U.K. economy is in recession, while the has cut its forecast for global growth this year to 1.7%, after estimating in June that it would grow at a 3% rate in 2023.
A growth rate of 1.7% would make this year among the weakest years for growth in three decades.
Elsewhere, Swiss chemicals maker Sika (SIX:) reported a 13.4% increase in full-year , as new factory openings and acquisitions helped the company surpass its target of hitting annual sales of CHF 10 billion ($1 = CHF 0.9211) for the first time.
Bayer (ETR:) will also be in the spotlight after Bloomberg reported that activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners has built a stake and is pushing for the breakup of the German pharmaceutical and agriculture giant.
The European economic calendar Wednesday includes and , both for November, but most attention this week will be on the U.S. report on Thursday.
The report is expected to show December’s headline inflation at 6.5% versus 7.1% in November, providing room for the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of its interest rate hikes in February, once more.
Fed chief made no direct reference in his speech Tuesday to the level of U.S. interest rates, but he did say the U.S. central bank is bracing for political resistance as its attempts to bring down inflation hit growth.
Oil prices fell Wednesday after a sharp increase in U.S. crude and fuel inventories reignited demand worries at the world’s largest consumer.
Data from the industry group , released late Tuesday, showed U.S. crude oil stockpiles jumped by 14.9 million barrels last week, instead of the expected small draw, while there appeared to be a negligible release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Distillate stocks, which include and jet fuel, also rose by about 1.1 million barrels.
The official inventory data is due from the later Wednesday, and traders will be looking for confirmation of this surprising release.
By 02:00 ET, traded 0.8% lower at $74.50 a barrel, while the contract fell 0.7% to $79.54.
Additionally, rose 0.5% to $1,886.20/oz, while traded 0.2% higher at 1.0752.