By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening marginally higher Thursday, boosted by the final approval of the U.S. Covid stimulus package amid caution ahead of the latest meeting of the European Central Bank.
European markets received a positive handover from Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average benchmark posting a record close, after the House of Representatives gave its final approval to the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history.
This stimulus package is expected to give the U.S. economy a significant boost during the second half of the year. This has fuelled expectations that it could lead to inflation, prompting the Federal Reserve to rein in its expansive monetary policies sooner than originally envisioned.
However, consumer price inflation data released on Wednesday came in weaker than expected, easing concerns about the U.S. economy overheating and further stalling a climb in bond yields.
Attention in Europe will now turn to the latest meeting of the European Central Bank, as it’s due to hand down its policy decision at 7:45 AM ET (1245 GMT).
“The ECB will be pressed to clarify what it means by preserving favorable financing conditions and its thoughts about the recent increase in bond yields,” said analysts at Nordea, in a research note. “Mere words are unlikely to stop long bond yields from rising further.”
In corporate news, Finnish telecom company Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has struck a deal with Samsung (KS:005930) to license patents covering its innovations in video standards, while earnings will be studied from the likes of Italian insurer Generali (MI:GASI), German fashion house Hugo Boss (DE:BOSSn), advertising giant WPP (LON:WPP) and WM Morrison Supermarkets (LON:MRW).
Oil prices rose Thursday, as the latest data from the Energy Information Administration showed that domestic gasoline supplies slid last week, by almost 12 million barrels, to the lowest in about four months, while demand rose to the highest since November. Gains were tempered by crude inventories rising by 13.8 million barrels.
The U.S. oil industry continues to feel the impact of an unexpected cold snap that hit Texas and the surrounding areas in February, which led to stalled refining and forced production shutdowns in the area.
European Stock Futures Higher; ECB Meeting Looms Large
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