European stock markets are expected to open marginally lower Monday, searching for direction as a positive earnings season winds down and concerns about rising Covid-19 cases climb.
At 2 AM ET (0700 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.2% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.2%.
The major equity indices in Europe have approached record levels in recent weeks, guided higher by healthy corporate earnings reports and by signs from the European Central Bank that it will keep its monetary policy accommodative for some time to come.
That said, worries over the coronavirus are rearing their head again, with Austria announcing on Sunday that it is placing millions of people not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in lockdown as of Monday.
The Netherlands also announced a partial lockdown last week, while the German federal government and leaders of the country's 16 states are due to meet next week to discuss tightening measures.
Helping the tone Monday was the news that China's industrial output and retail sales grew more quickly than expected in October, despite fresh curbs to control Covid-19 outbreaks in the world’s second-largest economy and key regional growth driver.
Back in Europe, Sonova (SIX:SOON), the world's biggest maker of hearing aids, on Monday reported strong first-half core profit, citing a solid market recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.
Telenor (OL:TEL) will also be in the spotlight Monday after the Norwegian telecom company announced Monday that it has formed a partnership with Alphabet’s Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Cloud to digitalise its global operations.
Elsewhere, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will appear before the European Parliament later on Monday.
Crude prices fell Monday, weighed by the possibility of additional U.S. supply as well as the continued strength of the U.S. dollar.
Speculation that the Biden administration will authorize the release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cool prices has been rife since the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies decided to stick to its plan of a gradual output increase at its last meeting earlier this month.
Additionally, the U.S. oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by six to 556 in the week to Nov. 12, its highest level since April 2020, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes.
By 2 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.9% lower at $78.94 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 1% to $81.38.
Additionally, gold futures fell 0.5% to $1,859.75/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1458.