European Stock Futures Higher; Dovish Fed Message Helps


By Peter Nurse – European stock markets are seen edging higher at the open Thursday, as investors digest the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep to its easy money policy while the first-quarter earnings season continues.

At 3:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.5% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.2%.

The U.S. central bank left its benchmark rate unchanged in the range of 0% to 0.25% on Wednesday and maintained its monthly pace of bond buying at $ 120 billion, as widely expected.

In the press conference that followed the policy statement, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell continued to signal that the central bank was in no rush to adjust its accommodative stance even as vaccine rollouts and fiscal stimulus bolster the country’s economic recovery.

“Powell…certainly didn’t sound scared of inflation expectations overshooting target, as the Fed seems to find most, if not all, reflationary factors transitory,” said analysts at Nordea, in a note.

It’s also a busy day for European corporate earnings.

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus (PA:AIR) posted higher first-quarter core earnings on Thursday but kept its forecasts unchanged amid uncertainty while the Covid-19 pandemic lingers. The problems of its customers were evident in German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa’s (DE:LHAG) results, which showed another first-quarter net loss , albeit a smaller one thanks to drastic cost cuts. Lufthansa said it expects a significant market recovery in the second half of the year.

U.K.-based bank Standard Chartered (OTC:SCBFF) posted a higher-than-expected 18% rise in quarterly pretax profit.

Additionally, Finnish telecom network equipment maker Nokia (NYSE:NOK) reported better-than-expected first-quarter revenue and profit, helped by a growth in sales of 5G equipment.

Earnings are also expected from oil giants Total (PA:TOTF) and Shell (LON:RDSa), and expectations are positive following on from rival BP ‘s (LON:BP) strong first quarter numbers.

Economic data releases from Europe Thursday will center around German unemployment and inflation numbers for April.

Oil prices edged higher Thursday, with a smaller-than-expected rise in U.S. crude stockpiles last week adding to the general market confidence of a strong rebound in global demand this year.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% higher at $ 64.18 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.5% to $ 67.11.

U.S. inventories rose by 90,000 barrels last week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday, much smaller than forecasts for a 659,000-barrel build and the previous week’s 594,000-barrel build.

Supply data from the industry body American Petroleum Institute the day before showed an increase of 4.3 million barrels.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.6% to $ 1,784.35/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.2135.

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