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European Stock Futures Lower; ECB Strategic Review in Focus

European stock markets are seen opening lower Thursday ahead of the publication of the ECB’s strategy review, handing back some of the previous session’s gains after a weak lead from Asia.

At 2:05 AM ET (0605 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.3% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.2% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.3%.

Stock markets in Asia were mostly lower Thursday, weighed by an extended selloff in tech shares over worries of a Chinese regulatory clampdown as well as rising Covid-19 virus cases.

This negative tone is expected to weigh on the European markets at the start of trading, even

after Wednesday’s healthy gains. The DAX closed 1.2% higher, the CAC 40 gained 0.3% and the FTSE 100 ended up 0.7% after the Federal Reserve said in its latest policy meeting minutes that more evidence of a robust economic recovery would be needed to set a timeline for asset tapering.

Back in Europe, the European Central Bank is set to announce the outcome of a 18-month strategy review at 1100 GMT, followed by a news conference hosted by President Christine Lagarde at 1230 GMT.

The central bank is expected to raise its inflation goal to 2%, a more explicit target than the previously used phrase, “below, but close to, 2% over the medium term”, as well as describing the target as symmetric.

The data slate in Europe includes German trade numbers, but the weekly U.S. unemployment figures will probably be the economic highlight. Initial jobless claims are seen falling to 350,000 last week, from 364,000 the previous week.

In corporate news, Suedzucker (DE:SZUG), Europe's largest sugar producer, reported disappointing first-quarter earnings on the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but expected profits to rise in its full financial year.

Elsewhere, oil prices edged lower, falling for the third consecutive session, amid continued uncertainty over future OPEC+ production levels after a dispute halted talks earlier this week.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, had been expected to boost production to balance the market given growing demand before a spat

between senior members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Evidence of the improving demand in the U.S. came late Wednesday with the American Petroleum Institute reporting a reduction of almost 8 million barrels from stockpiles last week, largely matching the 8.2 million-barrel draw recorded during the previous week.

U.S. crude oil supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration will be released later in the day.

By 2:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% lower at $72.02 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.2% to $73.29.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,798.70/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1801.

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