Stocks – Europe Seen Lower; Vodafone in Spotlight

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Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening lower Friday, amid concerns that the U.S. economic recovery is stalling due to the coronavirus, while fraught Sino-U.S. relations continue to generate tensions.

At 2:10 AM ET (0610 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.4% lower, the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. fell 1.2%, while CAC 40 futures in France dropped 1.1%.

Investors are now questioning the strength of the economic recovery in the U.S., the world’s largest economy and main driver, after Thursday saw the first rise in the number of Americans filing for unemployment claims since the last week in March, as some states rolled back reopenings because of the pandemic.

“This is especially worrying as negotiations on the extension of temporarily higher unemployment benefits seem unlikely to result in a breakthrough before the program expires at the end of July,” said analysts at Danske Bank, in a research note.

U.S. Congress has not yet reached consensus on the price tag for replacement measures to support the unemployed, amid fears the bipartisan nature of the political climate could make agreement difficult before the recess in August.

Economic data from Europe was more positive Friday, as U.K. retail sales rebounded in June, climbing 13.9% on the month. European PMI data later in the session should paint a constructive picture, suggesting the gradual recovery is continuing.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 numbers continue a relentless march, with over 15.5 million cases globally as of July 24, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and over 4 million cases in the U.S. alone.

Meanwhile, China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu on Friday, responding to being told to shut its consulate in Houston earlier this week.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorated sharply this year over a range of issues, from trade and technology to the coronavirus, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its clampdown on Hong Kong. President Donald Trump appeared to prepare the ground for ripping up his phased trade deal with China, saying it meant less to him now due to China’s role in the spread of Covid-19 virus.

In corporate news, Vodafone Group (LON:VOD) will be in the spotlight after the U.K.-based telecommunications company said it would list its towers infrastructure business in Frankfurt next year.

Oil prices were mixed Friday, helped by weakness in the U.S. dollar, although demand concerns stemming from rising coronavirus cases and a faltering economic recovery in the U.S., the biggest consumer of crude, has tempered the gains.  In Norway, major Equinor (OL:EQNR) posted a surprising profit for the three months through June.

At 2:10 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $41.01 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.1% to $43.34.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,749.50/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1135, flat on the day.

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