investors look ahead to U.S. inflation data for April

LONDON — European stocks advanced on Wednesday morning as investors looked ahead to the latest inflation reading.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 1.2% by mid-morning. Autos jumped 2.9% to lead gains as all sectors traded in positive territory except health care, which fell 0.9%.

The positive morning in Europe came after choppy trading sessions in the region, and in markets further afield.

European stocks climbed on Tuesday as global markets rebounded from a broad sell-off in recent days, prompted mainly by concerns over inflation and rising interest rates — and the potential for a global recession.

On Tuesday, U.S. stocks seesawed as the major averages struggled to recover from three days of heavy selling that brought the S&P 500 to its lowest level in more than a year.

Europe, we think, is in the center of the storm. We think the gas disruptions are likely to worsen.

Salman Ahmed

Global Head of Macro and Strategic Asset Allocation, Fidelity International

Investors are looking ahead to U.S. inflation data for April on Wednesday which is expected to come in slightly below March’s 8.5% and could signal that inflation has reached a peak.

Recent market volatility has been driven by investor concerns over rising interest rates and question marks over how aggressively the Federal Reserve will act to curb rising inflation. In addition, investors continue to monitor the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and lockdowns in China.

European natural gas prices jumped on Wednesday after Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator suspended Russian gas flows through a key entry point.

Gas TSO of Ukraine on Tuesday announced force majeure on its Sokhranivka gas metering station and Novopskov border compressor station, both of which are situated in Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine and account for almost a third of gas flows from Russia to Europe.

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Salman Ahmed, global head of macro and strategic asset allocation at Fidelity International, told CNBC on Wednesday that his team were underweight on stocks across the board, but favored the U.S. over Europe.

“Europe, we think, is in the center of the storm. We think the gas disruptions are likely to worsen,” he added.

Overnight, shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed as investors watched for market reaction to the release of higher-than-expected Chinese inflation data for April. Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures were higher in early morning trading Wednesday ahead of the forthcoming U.S. inflation data.

In Europe, German inflation in April rose to an annual 7.4%, its highest print since 1981.

Earnings from a wide range of companies were released before the bell, including Alstom, Commerzbank, Continental, E.On, Siemens Energy, Thyssenkrupp and Tui.

British catering company Compass Group jumped 9.6% after an upbeat earnings report, while German engineering and steel conglomerate Thyssenkrupp also added more than 10% after beating expectations.

Swedish Match shares climbed 8.7%, building on Tuesday’s surge after the tobacco company agreed a $16 billion sale to U.S. giant Philip Morris International.

British home emergency repairs firm HomeServe bounced more than 11% after Bloomberg reported that Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management was nearing a takeover of the company.

At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, German biotech firm Evotec plunged more than 14% after its first-quarter results.

Shares of German drugmaker Bayer fell 6.5% after U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court not to consider the company’s appeal to dismiss claims from customers alleging that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer.

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