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European stocks edge higher; Richemont gains on strong China sales

Investing.com - European stock markets traded marginally higher Thursday, steadying after the previous session’s sharp losses, but any gains are likely to be limited on increased doubts of early interest rate cuts. 

At 03:10 ET (08:10 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded largely unchanged, the CAC 40 in France traded up 0.2% and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.1%.

Uncertainty over rate cuts 

Strong retail sales data in the U.S., coupled with hawkish comments by a series of Federal Reserve speakers, has hit expectations that the U.S. central bank will start cutting interest rates in the first quarter of this new year.

Back in Europe, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde was the latest to pour cold water on bets for rate cuts until policymakers can be sure inflation is in retreat.

This view was given credence Wednesday after the U.K. annual inflation rate rose to 4.0% in December, increasing for the first time in 10 months.

Data is limited in Europe on Thursday, and thus most attention will be on the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, with a wide range of business and political leaders due to speak.

Richemont’s sales slump in Europe, but surge in China

In the corporate sector, Richemont (SIX:CFR) stock traded 6.6% higher despite the world’s second-largest luxury group reported lower third-quarter sales in Europe on Thursday, becoming the latest company in the sector to acknowledge a slowdown in demand.

Richemont said its overall sales growth decelerated to 8% in the three months to Dec. 31, down from the 12% increase in the previous six months.

That said, sales increased by 25% in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, the company said, countering concerns about a slowdown in the region as its economy cools.

The luxury sector has been buffeted in recent months by persistent inflation, high U.S. interest rates and a slower-than-expected recovery in China after the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Crude boosted by U.S. output drop 

Oil prices rose Thursday as U.S. oil production was disrupted amid a cold blast while Middle East tensions remained fraught.

By 03:10 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $72.89 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.3% to $78.10 a barrel.

Winter conditions in the U.S. state North Dakota caused oil output to fall by 650,000 to 700,000 barrels per day, less than half its typical output, supporting the overall market.

Additionally, Pakistan has launched retaliatory missile strikes into Iran, after Iran carried out strikes in Pakistan late on Tuesday, as the conflict in the Middle East threatened to expand further, potentially hitting crude supplies.

However, price gains were capped for now after an unexpected build in U.S. crude stockpiles and amid challenging recovery conditions in China.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.3% to $2,012.55/oz, while EUR/USD edged lower to 1.0880.

 

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