By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets are expected to open marginally higher Wednesday, rebounding after the previous session’s losses, but gains will be tentative as investors monitor developments in Ukraine as well as French political uncertainty.
At 2:05 AM ET (0605 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.2% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.5%, and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.2%.
Russia continued its new offensive in Ukraine’s two eastern provinces Wednesday, in what Ukrainian officials have called the Battle of the Donbas, prompting Western governments to pledge more military help to Kyiv.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled global markets, forcing many commodity prices higher, resulting in the International Monetary Fund warning Tuesday that inflation was now a “clear and present danger” for many countries.
The body cut its forecasts for the second time this year, now projecting global growth of 3.6% in both 2022 and 2023, a drop of 0.8 and 0.2 percentage points, respectively, citing the impact of the conflict.
Aside from Ukraine, investors will also focus on a crucial election debate later Wednesday between French President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, the only one between the two candidates in a tight race to decide who will run the country for the next five years.
In corporate news, Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) will be in the spotlight after the Swiss banking giant stated Wednesday that it expects a loss in reported first quarter earnings after increasing legal provisions by around 600 million Swiss francs ($631 million) to total approximately 700 million francs.
Danone (EPA:DANO) posted stronger-than-expected 7.1% sales growth in the first quarter, with the French food group keeping its financial goals for the 2022 full year unchanged despite the challenging environment.
Earnings are also due from the likes of Heineken (OTC:HEINY) and ASML (AS:ASML), while Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) publishes a first quarter review.
The economic data slate will center around the Eurozone industrial production for February, with the annual figure expected to rebound to 1.5% and a drop of 1.3% the previous month.
Oil prices rebounded Wednesday from the previous session’s sharp losses, helped by industry data showing a drop in U.S. crude inventories last week, pointing to healthy demand from the world’s largest consumer.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a draw of just under 4.5 million barrels for the week ended April 14, largely reversing the 7.8-million-barrel build reported the previous week.
Investors now await crude oil supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, due later in the day, for confirmation.
By 2:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% higher at $102.47 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.4% to $107.66. Both benchmarks fell just over 5% on Tuesday.
Additionally, gold futures fell 0.7% to $1,945.50/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0813.
European Stock Futures Edge Higher; Ukraine Conflict, French Debate in Focus