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Stocks - Europe Seen Higher on Virus Vaccine Optimism

·3-min read

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets are set to edge higher at the open Thursday, helped by positive results from a potential Covid-19 vaccine although sentiment remains cautious as coronavirus cases mount ahead of the release of key U.S. employment data.

At 2:05 AM ET (0605 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.7% higher. France's CAC 40 futures were up 1%, while the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.9%.

News emerged late Wednesday that a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials and saw the production of neutralizing antibodies in all the patients who were inoculated after 28 days.

This has boosted risk sentiment given the ever-rising number of cases prompted World Health Organization officials to warn that some countries might need to reinstate lockdowns to curb the virus’ spread.

The number of reported cases in the U.S., the world’s economic engine, rose to over 50,000 Wednesday, a new record for one day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

At least five states -- Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas -- had record-high totals of new case reports.

With this in mind, attention will turn to the release of U.S. employment figures later in the day to see if the world's largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery.

Economists are forecasting that the U.S. economy added 3 million jobs in June after a shock 2.5 million gain a month earlier. But the two months of gains would still pale in comparison to the approximately 22 million jobs that were lost in March and April.

Turning back to Europe, May unemployment data for the euro zone is due out at 05:00 AM ET (0900 GMT), and is expected to show a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.7% from 7.3% in April.

In corporate news, Novartis (SIX:NOVN) could be in the spotlight after the Swiss drugmaker agreed to pay $678 million to settle a lawsuit. The U.S. government had accused the company of illegally providing doctors with cash payments and other perks to induce them to prescribe its cardiovascular and diabetes drugs.

Oil prices edged higher Thursday after Energy Information Administration data late Wednesday showed U.S. crude inventories fell 7.2 million barrels from a record high last week, far more than expected.

This backed up the American Petroleum Institute data from the previous day, which suggests a bump up in demand for crude.

However, gains have been limited given worries the jump in new Covid-19 cases, resulting in California becoming the latest U.S. state to re-impose lockdown measures, will have on future demand.

At 2:10 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $39.86 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.4% to $42.19.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,776.35/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1270, up 0.2% on the day.

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