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European stock futures edge lower; COVID, Fed minutes, PMI data in focus

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets are expected to open with small losses Wednesday as investors digest new COVID curbs in China ahead of the release of the minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting.

At 02:20 ET (07:20 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.3% lower and CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.2%.

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.

The latest Covid wave has hit a number of cities, including the capital city of Beijing and financial hub Shanghai, prompting authorities to close some facilities and tighten mobility restrictions, hitting economic activity at the world’s second largest economy and major export market from European companies.

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.

Back in Europe, the economic data slate centers around PMI data, with preliminary November readings scheduled from the U.K. and Eurozone.

In corporate news, Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) provided an updated outlook for its fourth quarter, with the troubled Swiss bank stating it “began experiencing deposit and net asset outflows in the first two weeks of October 2022 at levels that substantially exceeded the rates incurred in the third quarter of 2022."

English Premier League giants Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) will also be in the spotlight after its owners, the Glazer family, started the process of potentially selling the club, just weeks after rival Liverpool also announced they were exploring a sale.

The oil market edged lower Wednesday 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.

However, losses have been tempered by data from the American Petroleum Institute, released Tuesday, showing that U.S. crude stockpiles fell a bigger-than-expected 4.8 million barrels in the past week, suggesting U.S. consumer demand remains healthy.

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.

By 02:20 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% higher at $81.18 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.3% to $88.65.

Additionally, gold futures traded 0.1% higher at $1,740.92/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0336.

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