European Stock Futures Lower; Covid Recovery Doubts Mount

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Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening lower Wednesday, continuing the global weakness, as doubts about the speed of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic weigh on sentiment.

At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.4% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.5%.

The recent increases in Covid-19 cases and deaths represent “truly worrying trends,” said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday.

The United Nations agency had pointed out earlier this week that most regions of the globe are seeing an increase in new Covid-19 cases as highly contagious variants continue to spread.

In Europe, the Netherlands announced late Tuesday that a nationwide curfew and other curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus will be extended by three weeks until late April – joining the likes of Germany, France and Italy which have already tightened restrictive measures.

On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9%, the S&P 500 lost 0.8% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.1%.

The picture didn’t look any better in Asia earlier Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei stumbled 2%, South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.3%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng skidded 2%. 

Adding to the worries, confidence in the safety of AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN)’s vaccine took another hit Tuesday after a U.S. health agency said its trial may have included outdated information.

On a brighter note, the expansion of Japan’s factory activity gathered pace in March, with the country’s flash PMI rising to a seasonally adjusted 52.0 in March from a final 51.4 in February.

The equivalent data from the likes of Germany and France are due later Wednesday, and will offer more clues about the state of the region’s manufacturing and services industries.

Inflation data from the U.K. had earlier undershot, with February’s CPI release climbing by just 0.4% on the year, versus the expected 0.8%, and by 0.1% on the month, versus 0.5% expected.  

In the corporate sector, earnings come from E.ON (DE:EONGn) and Bellway (LON:BWY), while Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) releases its annual report.

Oil prices pushed higher Wednesday, steadying after the sharp losses of the previous session, but worries about a slow recovery to demand remain given the fresh lockdowns in Europe and a build in U.S. inventories.

U.S. crude stocks jumped by 2.9 million barrels last week, according to data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute. Official data from the Energy Information Administration are due later in the session.

U.S. crude futures traded 1.3% higher at $58.49 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.4% to $61.64. Both benchmarks have now fallen nearly 15% from their recent highs earlier this month.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,729.05/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1845.

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