European Stock Futures Higher; U.S. Stimulus Eyed

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Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening marginally higher Thursday, as Christmas trading reports flood in from the retail sector.

At 2:10 AM ET (0710 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.2% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.2% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.2%.

Tesco (OTC:TSCDY), the U.K.’s biggest food retailer and online retailer boohoo both caught the eye with their updates, Tesco (LON:TSCO) reporting a 6.4% rise in comparable sales for the third quarter of its fiscal year and a 6.1% rise over the Christmas period. Online fashion group boohoo (LON:BOOH) meanwhile raised its sales guidance for the year to a rise of around 37% from 30% previously. 

In France, meanwhile, struggling automaker Renault (PA:RENA) unveiled a new strategic plan aimed at raising operating margins to over 5% by 2025, not least by cutting its output by over 20% in that period.

The idea of additional stimulus in the U.S. has boosted global equity markets ever since the Democrats took the Senate at the start of the year and was given another boost overnight after CNN reported that President-elect Joe Biden was mulling an additional package as large as $2 trillion.

However, gains are likely to be limited Thursday with governments across Europe tightening their coronavirus restrictions over fears about a fast-spreading strain first detected in the U.K..

Italy, whose government is on the verge of collapse, is set to extend its Covid-19 state of emergency to the end of April.  The Netherlands will stretch its lockdown measures by at least three weeks, while France is thinking of lengthening its nationwide curfew.

The vaccination programs continue to be rolled out across the continent, but these are not expected to help to any great degree for another two to three months.

That said, there was some good news on the vaccine front as early trial data published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE:JNJ) one-shot Covid vaccine appeared to generate an immune response in both the young and elderly.

Elsewhere, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on the single charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in last week’s rampage on Capitol Hill, making him the first U.S. president to face two such trials.

Oil prices edged lower Thursday, with traders having to balance the pandemic impact on demand with a larger-than-expected draw in U.S. inventories.

U.S. crude oil supply data from the Energy Information Administration released on Wednesday showed a draw of 3.247 million barrels last week, the fifth week in a row of reductions, while Tuesday’s data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a draw of 5.821 million barrels.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% lower at $52.90 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.2% to $55.97. 

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.8% to $1,840/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.2145.

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