European stock markets are seen opening largely higher Friday, continuing the strong gains from the previous session as optimism over the region’s outlook strengthens as it gradually gets to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) upgraded its investment stance on continental European equities to ‘overweight’ on Thursday, citing a catch-up in economic recovery, valuations and excess liquidity.
Helping the region’s vaccination program, the U.K. medicine regulator approved new storage conditions for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine, saying it can now be stored for 31 days, up from 5, at regular fridge temperature after being thawed. More worryingly, cases of a new variant of Covid-19 first identified in India doubled in the U.K. for the second week in a row.
Additionally, the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe said the vaccines being used on the continent - including the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - appeared able to protect against the current variants in circulation.
Investors will also be monitoring a slew of May’s flash PMI readings out of the Eurozone and the U.K. on Friday morning.
Earlier, U.K. retail sales jumped 9.2% on the month in April, a substantial rise from the 5.1% increase the previous month, and indicative of consumers returning as shops gradually reopened.
In corporate news, Richemont (SIX:CFR) is likely to be in focus Friday after the luxury goods company proposed to double its dividend, reflecting a 38% rise in net profit in its fiscal year 2020/21.
Oil prices edged higher Friday, recovering some lost ground after three days of selling as traders started to factor in the potential return of Iranian crude supplies.
Iran and world powers have been in talks since April on reviving the 2015 deal which limited Iran’s nuclear program. These talks appear to be making progress after Iran's president said the United States was ready to lift sanctions on his country's oil, banking and shipping sectors.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% higher at $62.11 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.1% to $65.20. Both contracts are still down nearly 5% this week and on track to post their biggest weekly loss since March.