European Stock Futures Higher; Powell Calms Inflation Fears

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Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening higher Thursday, continuing the global rally after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reassured investors that interest rates would remain low for some considerable time.

At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.3% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.5% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.5%.

In his second day of testimony before Congress, Powell helped calm fears that higher inflation rates could see the central bank tighten monetary policy, reiterating the central bank’s desire to get the U.S. economy back to full employment.

 “Our policy is accommodative because unemployment is high and the labor market is far from maximum employment,” Powell said on Wednesday, as he appeared in front of the House Financial Services Committee.

This dovish tone was matched Thursday by European Central Bank board member Isabel Schnabel, who stated in an interview that raising interest rates too abruptly could jeopardise economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Wednesday at a record high on Wall Street. Asian markets also strengthened Thursday, with Japan’s Nikkei gaining 1.7% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.5%. 

It’s also a busy day for earnings releases in Europe.

Standard Chartered (OTC:SCBFF) will be in the spotlight after the U.K.-based bank Thursday restored its dividend and reaffirmed its long-term profit goals even as its annual profit more than halved.

The likes of the world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, French water management company Veolia (PA:VIE), French insurer AXA (PA:AXAF), German pharmaceutical giant Bayer (OTC:BAYRY) and Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) will all be in focus as they report.

Looking at economic data, German consumer confidence improved in March, admittedly from a low base. The GfK German consumer climate index came in at -12.9 in March, an improvement from -15.5 the previous month.

Oil prices pushed higher Thursday, as reduced levels of U.S. production continued to support the market ahead of next week’s meeting of the globe’s top producers.

Last week’s cold snap in Texas, and other southern states, caused U.S. crude production to drop by more than 10%, or 1 million barrels per day, the Energy Information Administration said late Wednesday, while the volume of crude processed by refineries dropped to the lowest level since September 2008.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, is due to meet on March 4. They are likely to discuss an easing of oil supply curbs from April given the recent recovery in prices.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.2% higher at $63.36 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.3% to $66.35. Both contracts climbed to their highest levels since January 2020 earlier in the session.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,792.50/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.2177.

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