Investing.com – European stock markets edged lower Friday, ending the week on a negative tone as investors study a slew of corporate earnings, particularly from Daimler, and economic data releases.
European markets suffered a negative handover from Wall Street, with the major U.S. indices all dropping around 0.9% late Thursday, their biggest slide in five weeks, on reports that President Joe Biden is set to propose almost doubling capital-gains tax for the wealthy.
That said, losses are small, helped by signs of an improving economic picture in Europe as a whole. French and German manufacturing PMI numbers came in better than expected, well above the 50 expansion threshold, while U.K. retail sales jumped 5.4% on the month in March, climbing 7.2% on the year, way ahead of expectations.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde assured the market on Thursday that pullbacks in the central bank’s emergency program were not under discussion despite its prediction of a strong rebound in the euro zone economy from mid-year.
This comes as the region starts to get a grip of the latest wave of Covid-19 infections as it ramps up its vaccination program. France, for example, is set to re-open its schools on Monday and lift domestic travel curbs, which started earlier in the month, on May 3.
In the corporate sector, Daimler (OTC:DDAIF) stock rose 1.6% after the German car maker raised its profit outlook for 2021, even while warning that the global semiconductor chip shortage may continue to affect sales in the second quarter.
Air Liquide (OTC:AIQUY) stock fell 0.2% after the French industrial-gas supplier’s revenue dipped slightly in the first quarter, while Remy Cointreau (PA:RCOP) stock slipped 0.4% after the spirits maker reported a slight rise in sales in its fiscal full-year.
Oil prices edged higher Friday, boosted by the improving economic conditions in Europe and the U.S., but concerns about the second wave of Covid-19 cases in India kept a cap on the gains.
Both contracts are still heading for losses of just under 2% this week on concerns of weakening fuel demand in India, the world’s third-largest oil importer, as the country sets records for daily infections and deaths from the Covid-19 virus.
India recorded almost 315,000 new cases on Thursday, prompting a number of countries, including Australia, Britain and Canada, to restrict the number of flights from the region.