By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - European stock markets are seen edging higher at the open Wednesday, as the global economy's outlook brightens, and the region shows signs of getting on top of its latest wave of the Covid-19 virus.
At 3:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.1% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.3%.
Investor sentiment has been boosted globally by continued support from central banks and an improving growth outlook.
The International Monetary Fund raised its 2021 global growth forecast late Tuesday to 6%, up from 5.5% less than three months ago, citing unprecedented public spending, primarily by the United States.
However, the outlook for Europe is less impressive. Germany, the largest country in the European Union, is only seen growing 3.6% this year, according to the IMF, with its economy having faced different waves of infections and subsequent lockdowns. Additionally, there are concerns about the latest initiative by Euroskeptic Germans to stop Germany putting its financial firepower behind the EU's 750 billion-euro recovery plan.
The country’s current lockdown looks set to last for a while, with German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz stating on CNBC on Tuesday that “this is not a time for opening. This is the time for being very tough, for keeping infection rates down.”
There was some good news regarding the virus, with the U.K. to begin rolling out the Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) vaccine later Wednesday, around two weeks earlier than expected. This will become the third approved vaccine to be offered in Britain, alongside shots from AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) and partners Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech.
In corporate news, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has settled a multi-year patent fight with China's Lenovo Group (OTC:LNVGY), the world's biggest PC maker, resolving all pending litigation across all jurisdictions, the companies said on Wednesday.
Royal Dutch Shell (AS:RDSa) said meanwhile that it expects a hit of up to $200 million from the cold snap that disrupted the energy complex in Texas and other U.S. states in February.
On the data front, eurozone final composite purchasing manager’s index data for March is scheduled for release later in the session, and should show improvement.
Oil prices edged higher Wednesday, helped by the stronger IMF growth forecast as well as U.S. crude inventories falling last week.
Data from the industry body, the American Petroleum Institute, showed a reduction of 2.6 million barrels for the week ending April 2, more than expected and indicative of a pickup in demand in the United States, the world's biggest fuel consumer.
Crude oil supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due later in the day.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $59.37 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.1% to $62.77.
Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,739.15/oz, while EUR/USD traded flat at 1.1876.