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European stocks hit by weak global sentiment; UK retail sales slump - European stock markets fell Friday, continuing the negative global sentiment on concerns that elevated interest rates will hit economic activity.

At 03:10 ET (07:10 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.9% lower, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.6%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. dropped 0.9%.

Weak global sentiment 

European equities have traded lower at the end of the week, tracking weakness in Asia and also Wall Street as increasing anxiety over sticky U.S. inflation and high interest rates battered sentiment towards risk-driven assets.

The Nikkei index in Japan dropped over 1% Friday, while the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average average in the U.S. had its worst session in more than a year on Thursday, falling over 600 points.

This followed the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting which suggested the central bank could keep rates high for longer than expected, as well as a string of warnings on inflation from Federal Reserve officials. 

The European Central Bank is widely expected to cut interest rates in June, but U.K. inflation came in higher than expected earlier this week, creating difficulties for the Bank of England.

Data released earlier Friday showed that British retail sales fell by more than expected in April, dropping by 2.3% on a monthly basis, as wet weather kept shoppers away from clothing retailers and sports stores.  

Abrdn CEO departs

The earnings season is coming to a close in the corporate sector, but British fund manager Abrdn (LON:ABDN) announced that CEO Stephen Bird will step down after four years in the role, and finance chief Jason Windsor will take the helm on an interim basis. Its stock rose 1%. 

Crude heading for weekly falls 

Crude prices steadied Friday, heading for hefty weekly losses on concerns over U.S. economic activity amid sticky inflation and high interest rates. 

By 03:10 ET, the U.S. crude futures (WTI) traded 0.1% lower at $76.79 per barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.1% to $81.30 per barrel.

Both contracts were on track to post weekly losses of more than 3%, with Brent at its weakest level in two months, while WTI was at a three-month low.

All eyes are now on the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, at the start of June.

The group of producers is expected to discuss whether to extend voluntary oil output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.2% to $2,341.10/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0818.

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