European Stocks Lower; Macroeconomic Outlook Looks Bleak

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets weakened Friday, as investors digested a series of interest rate hikes in the region ahead of a fiscal update by the new U.K. administration.

By 03:40 ET (07:40 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.6% lower, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.4% and U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 0.7%.

European equities are heading for deep weekly losses as rising interest rates across the globe threaten to sharply curtail economic growth, weighing on risk appetite.

The Bank of England hiked its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points on Thursday, its seventh consecutive rise, the Swiss National Bank ended its period of negative rates, while the Norges Bank in Norway also hiked by 50 basis points and pointed to more hikes ahead.

The European Central Bank also raised interest rates last week and the Federal Reserve followed suit on Wednesday, both central banks hiking by an aggressive 75 basis points.

The macroeconomic outlook in Europe is bleak, HSBC warned Friday, in a note, as supply disruptions and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine on energy and food prices continue to stifle growth, and force central banks to tighten monetary policy aggressively to rein in inflation.

Investors will also focus on events in the U.K., with new finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng set to deliver his first fiscal update to parliament, a so-called "mini Budget". He is set to provide more details about his plans to support the country’s economy through what is likely to be a difficult winter.

There was some good economic news as Spain upgraded its second quarter economic growth to 1.5% up from a previous 1.1% announced two months ago, but both French and German manufacturing PMI data remained in contraction territory, with the region’s industrial base suffering from soaring energy costs.

In corporate news, Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) stock fell 7.8% on reports the Swiss lender is once more approaching investors for fresh cash, as it attempts a radical overhaul of its investment bank.

Oil prices fell Friday, on course for a fourth consecutive weekly decline after a series of interest-rate hikes around the world increased fears of a global economic slowdown, hitting the demand for energy.

The decision of Russia to escalate its invasion of Ukraine, mobilizing more troops to stem recent Ukrainian gains, helped stem losses, but both contracts are on course for weekly losses of around 2% in the wake of the monetary tightening, led by the Federal Reserve.

By 03:40 ET (07:40 GMT), U.S. crude futures traded 1.6% lower at $82.15 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 1.5% to $89.07.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,674.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.6% lower at 0.9778.

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