Stocks – Europe Heads Higher Ahead of Eurogroup meeting

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Investing.com – European stock markets are set to edge higher Thursday, as investors take in the strong gains on Wall Street overnight but remain cautious ahead of the resumption of talks to find the best way to offer up financial help for the region.

At 2:00 AM ET (0600 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.6% higher. {{167|France’s CAC 40 futures were up 0.8%, while the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 1.4%. 

Eurozone finance ministers are set to resume their virtual gathering to debate the best way forward to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the region’s economies.

The Eurogroup meeting had originally started Tuesday, but disagreements persisted over the conditions for loans to hard-hit countries like Spain and Italy under the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, as well as whether to issue joint debt known as ‘coronabonds’ as part of a wider recovery plan.

Wall Street had closed sharply higher Wednesday amid hopes the U.S. may turn a corner in its battle against the coronavirus as early as next week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.4%, or 780 points, the S&P 500 up 3.4%, while the NASDAQ Composite added 2.6%.

In corporate news, UBS (NYSE:UBS) and Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN), Switzerland’s two biggest banks, said Thursday that they had decided to partially postpone the payment of their dividend for 2019 until later this year. 

This follows criticism from financial markets watchdog FINMA of their earlier decision to maintain a full payout during the coronavirus crisis.

Staying in the banking sector, top executives at HSBC (LON:HSBA) and Standard Chartered (LON:STAN) announced they would forgo their bonuses for 2020 and donate part of their salaries to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes after the two banks said at the start of this month that they would cancel their dividends and not buy back shares.

Economic data earlier showed that the U.K. economy contracted in February, with the monthly GDP release coming in at -0.1% versus +0.1% expected. And this was before the shutdown of the country’s economy.

The most important data of the day will be the weekly jobless claims in the U.S., at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT).

Economists expect that claims eased off only a little from the previous week’s record 6.65 million to 5.25 million, according to forecasts compiled by Investing.com.

Oil prices have pushed higher Thursday, ahead of a crucial meeting where the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are expected to agree a cut to production of up to 10 million barrels per day over 90 days.

Any agreement is likely to be conditional on output falling in the U.S. too.

At 2:30 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 4.2% higher at $26.14 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.8% to $33.40.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,685.00/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0867, unchanged on the day.

 

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