By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets weakened Thursday, amid resurgent worries over higher bond yields and extended equity valuations on a busy day for earnings.
At 3:55 AM ET (0855 GMT), the in Germany traded 0.5% lower, the in France fell 0.2% and the U.K.’s index dropped 0.8%.
European markets received a weak handover from Asia, and before that Wall Street, following more gains in U.S. Treasury yields, with the benchmark 10-year yield climbing to a high of 1.49% on Wednesday before retreating slightly.
Yields of major European government bonds, with German bunds being the main example, have also risen, but by less than their American counterparts, amid some mixed signaling from the European Central Bank over whether or not it needs to react.
Rising yields lessen the attractiveness of stocks whose expected profits lie far in the future. Federal Reserve Chairman will also be in focus. He is due to speak at a conference at 12:05 PM EST (1705 GMT), and investors will look to see if he tries to downplay the recent volatility.
In the corporate sector, Lufthansa (DE:) stock fell 1.2% after the German airline posted record losses for 2020, adding that it may permanently ground more planes to emerge leaner from the coronavirus pandemic. It now says it expects to fly no more than half its pre-pandemic schedule this year, down from an earlier estimate of 60%.
Merck KGaA (DE:) stock rose 1.4% after the German drugmaker offered a solid outlook for 2021, expecting earnings to grow in the high single-digit to low teens percentage range.
Aviva (LON:) stock climbed 3.6% after the U.K. insurer agreed to sell its Italian business and pay down 800 million pounds ($1.1 billion) of debt, while Schroders (LON:) stock dropped 1.6% despite the U.K.-based money manager reporting record levels of assets under management.
Eurozone for January are due later in the session.
Oil prices climbed higher Thursday, as traders positioned themselves ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, a grouping known as OPEC+.
This influential group had been expected to ease production cuts, but Reuters is reporting that they are now considering rolling over the current output curbs into April, allowing the recovery in oil demand to become more established.
This has allowed market participants to look through Wednesday’s surge in stockpiles, jumping a record last week, especially as this figure was influenced by the recent spell of wintry weather in the southern states.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% higher at $61.48 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract rose 0.4% to $64.33.
Elsewhere, fell 0.2% to $1,712.80/oz, while traded 0.2% lower at 1.2042.
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