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European stocks higher; euro zone retail sales, BMW deliveries in focus

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets traded higher Tuesday, helped by gains in Asia overnight ahead of the release of the latest euro zone retail sales data.

At 03:35 ET (07:35 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.7% higher, the CAC 40 in France climbed 0.9%, and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.6%.

European equities have returned from the long Easter weekend with a broadly positive outlook, helped by improved sentiment across large parts of Asia.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, in particular, gained over 1% after legendary U.S. investor Warren Buffett indicated he was looking to increase his exposure to Japanese stocks by lifting his holdings in the nation’s trading houses.


Back in Europe, the main economic focus will be the release of the euro zone’s February retail sales, which are expected to have fallen 0.8% on the month, an annual drop of 3.5%, indicative of the pressures soaring prices were placing on consumers’ disposable income.

In corporate news, BMW (ETR:BMWG) stock rose 1.4% despite the German carmaker delivering 588,138 vehicles in the first quarter of this year, down 1.5% on the previous year.

"The BMW Group is on track for slight sales growth in the full year 2023," said Pieter Nota, management board member for customer, brands and sales. "The main growth drivers in 2023 will be fully-electric vehicles and models from the high-end premium segment," he added.

A lot of attention this week, however, is going to be on the U.S. markets in the wake of Friday’s official jobs report.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 236,000 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.5% and indicating that the U.S. labor market remains resilient.

This could allow the Federal Reserve room to hike interest rates once more in May, and the focus will be on Wednesday’s inflation data as well as the minutes of the Fed’s March meeting for further clues of the future path of monetary policy.

Oil prices rose Tuesday on hopes of demand growth in Asia as well as expectations that inventories in the U.S., the world's biggest crude consumer, will fall again.

Data showed that fuel consumption in India, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, jumped by 5% in March from a year earlier.

Reuters also reported that Chinese airlines were hiring en masse, positioning for an expected rebound in travel demand this year after the relaxation of the country’s anti-COVID restrictions.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry body, is scheduled to release its weekly data on U.S. crude stockpiles later in the session, and is expected to show another fall after last week’s drop of over 4 million barrels.

By 03:35 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $80.37 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.6% to $84.72.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.7% to $2,017.75/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0896.

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