By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets were mixed Wednesday as investors digested new COVID curbs in China ahead of key Eurozone business activity data as well as the minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting.
At 03:55 ET (08:55 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.1% lower, CAC 40 in France traded flat, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.6%.
Rising COVID-19 cases in China are weighing on risk appetite, as investors fret that the country may be forced back into the harsh lockdown conditions that existed at the peak of the original outbreak.
Early numbers show France’s private sector economy contracted in November for the first time since February 2021, while activity in Germany’s manufacturing sector improved in November for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Investors will also focus on the Fed minutes due to be released later on Wednesday.
Signs that inflation may have peaked have prompted investors to look for clues that the Federal Reserve is set to slow the pace of interest rate hikes heading into the last meeting of the year next month.
In corporate news, Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) stock fell 4.2% after the embattled Swiss lender said it expects to make a hefty pretax loss in the fourth quarter, noting substantial net asset outflows in the first two weeks of October.
Halfords (LON:HFD) stock fell 5.2% after the chain of cycling and motoring gear warned that its full-year underlying profit will be at the lower end of its forecasts.
Pets at Home (LON:PETSP) stock fell 8.2% after the British pet supplies retailer posted a decline in half-year pretax income, as an inflation-fueled rise in expenses offset resilient customer demand.
The oil market edged higher Wednesday, helped by a larger than expected draw in U.S. crude stockpiles last week, suggesting consumer demand in the largest economy in the world remains healthy.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute, released Tuesday, showed that U.S. stocks fell 4.8 million barrels in the past week.
The official government figures from the Energy Information Agency are due later in the session, with the focus on the pace of the U.S. government’s drawdown from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is at an over 38-year low.
The market had suffered sharp falls at the end of last week and into this week on concerns about lower fuel demand from China, as the world’s largest crude importer struggles with a record-high increase in daily COVID-19 infections.
By 03:55 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.9% higher at $81.67 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1% to $89.24.
Additionally, gold futures traded largely flat at $1,740.15/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0315.