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European stock markets are expected to open higher Friday, ending a volatile week on a positive note, helped by a supportive tone from the European Central Bank.
At 2:10 AM ET (0610 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.2% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.4% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.4%.
The ECB, as was largely expected, did not adjust its benchmark interest rate or its commitment to purchase 1.85 trillion euro in bonds through March 2022 at its latest meeting on Thursday. However, it did tie its new forward guidance on interest rates more closely to inflation, suggesting they aren’t likely to rise anytime soon.
“With an inflation projection currently of 1.4% YoY for 2023 and the new forward guidance, interest rates will remain low for even longer,” said analysts at ING, in a note.
Gold was down on Friday morning in Asia, recovering from the more than one-week low hit during the previous session. Retreating U.S. bond yields and weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data also helped to counter a strengthening dollar.
Gold futures inched down 0.06% to $1,804.35 by 1:09 AM ET (5:09 AM GMT), after hitting their lowest level since Jul. 12 at $1,791.16 on Thursday. The yellow metal is down 0.2% for the past week, after posting gains during the preceding four weeks.
The dollar, which normally moves inversely to gold, inched up on Friday towards a three-and-a-half-month peak. U.S. Treasury yields eased on Thursday after an auction of $16 billion in 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities was bid at a record low.
The GBP/USD pair remained on the defensive following the release of mixed UK Retail Sales figures and was last seen hovering near daily lows, around mid-1.3700s.
The pair struggled to capitalize on this week’s strong recovery move from sub-1.3600 levels, or the lowest level since early February and edged lower during the Asian session on Thursday. The GBP/USD pair had a rather muted reaction to the UK macro data, which showed that headline Retail Sales grew 0.5% in June as compared to 0.4% expected and -1.3% previous. On an annualized basis, the UK retail sales rose by 9.7% in June versus 9.6% expected.
This, however, was offset by a slight disappointment from sales tripping the auto motor fuel, which recorded a modest growth of 0.3% during the reported month as against 0.6% expected. Adding to this, the yearly rate also fell short of expectations and increased by 7.4%. This comes on the back of rising COVID-19 infections in the UK, which along with the impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit deal acted as a headwind for the British pound.
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