By Peter Nurse
European stock markets are expected to open lower Friday, weighed by more losses in Asia overnight and ahead of important growth data and more corporate earnings.
European markets have received a negative handover from Asia, with the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dropping around 2% as the tech sector resumed its selloff amid concerns over excessive Chinese government regulatory interference.
The Hang Seng slumped more than 8% in two days of heavy selling early this week before bouncing back 3% in Thursday’s session.
Also weighing on sentiment Friday was a disappointing earnings report from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) after the close on Wall Street Thursday. The e-commerce giant missed quarterly revenue expectations for the first time in three years while providing weak guidance for the current quarter.
Back in Europe, BNP Paribas (OTC:BNPQY) will be in the spotlight Friday after the French bank reported a 26% rise in net income in the second quarter and agreed to pay an additional dividend, helped by a rebound of domestic retail banking activity and a reduction in provisions for bad loans. U.K. bank NatWest Group (LON:NWG) also used its newly-regained freedom to pay a dividend, and announced a 750 million-pound buyback program.
Renault (PA:RENA) posted a half-year net profit, a sharp improvement from this time last year, and the French carmaker said it expected to post a full-year 2021 profit despite a worsening semiconductor chip shortage and rising raw materials costs.
Air France KLM (PA:AIRF) reported a jump in second-quarter revenue of 133% with its net loss narrowing, enabling it to predict a return to profitability in the current quarter as vaccination and an easing of travel restrictions improves bookings.
In economic news, French gross domestic product rose 0.9% in the three months ending in June, an improvement from the drop of 0.1% the previous quarter despite a strict lockdown in April to contain a resurgence of Covid cases.
Elsewhere, oil prices edged lower Friday, but are set to end the second consecutive week higher as investors remained confident about the global demand recovery.