Investing.com – European stock markets edged higher Friday, ending a volatile week on a positive note despite disappointing U.K. retail sales.
At 03:40 ET (08:40 GMT), the index in Germany traded 0.6% higher, the in France traded up 0.7% and the in the U.K. rose 0.8%.
U.K. retail sales slump
U.K. slumped 0.3% on the month in October, an annual fall of 2.7%, and U.K. consumers continued to struggle from higher interest rates and elevated inflation levels.
This was the worst month for the country’s retail sector since Covid lockdowns, with sales at their lowest since February 2021, and raised concerns over the spending outlook during the vital festive quarter.
Lagarde scheduled to speak
Yet, despite these worries, the main European equity indices are set to post weekly gains as global inflation levels have tended to surprise to the downside, lifting expectations that central banks may be at peak levels for interest rates.
A sharp drop in oil prices bodes well for a further decline in headline inflation globally.
The final reading of the eurozone’s October should confirm that trend later in the session, as the headline figure is expected to be confirmed falling to 2.9% on an annual basis, a hefty drop from 4.3% the prior month.
ECB President is set to speak at the European Banking Congress in Frankfurt later in the session, and her comments will be parsed carefully for clues of the intentions of policy makers regarding interest rates after the central bank paused its cycle of hikes last month.
Generali slips despite profit gain
In the corporate sector, Assicurazioni Generali (BIT:) stock fell 1.5% after the Italian insurer said it was sticking to its 2024 targets even after posting a hefty rise in nine-month adjusted net profit as higher premiums offset the bigger impact of claims from natural disasters.
AstraZeneca (LON:) stock gained 1.6% after the U.K.-based drug maker said it had received U.S. approval for a new breast cancer treatment, while Volvo (OTC:) Car AB (ST:) slumped over 10% after owner China’s Geely launched a sale of 100 million shares.
Crude on course for weekly loss
Oil prices edged higher Friday, but were on course for the fourth straight negative week of decline amid signs of increased supplies and fears of worsening global demand.
By 03:40 ET, the futures traded 0.1% higher at $72.97 a barrel, while the contract climbed 0.1% to $77.50 a barrel. Both contracts are around 5% lower this week, near four-month lows.
This week’s sharp decline was mainly triggered by a steep rise in U.S. and production sustaining at record levels.
Additionally, rose 0.1% to $1,989.25/oz, while traded 0.1% lower to 1.0842.