European Stock Futures Lower; BNP Paribas, NatWest Lead Earnings Deluge

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.

At 2:05 AM ET (0605 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.5% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.5% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 0.6%.

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. 

This sets the scene for the equivalent data from Germany and the Eurozone as a whole later in the session, with growth expected to rebound as the region’s economies reopened after the pandemic.

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.

At 2:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% lower at $73.06 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.8% to $74.52, but both contracts are set for gains of around 2% for the week.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,827.75/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1881.

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