LONDON — European markets were slightly higher Friday after Wall Street snapped a three-day losing streak, with attention turning to key economic data from the euro zone and U.K.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 gained 0.3% in early trade, with autos adding 0.9% to lead gains as all sectors except basic resources entered positive territory.
Stocks in Europe received a subdued handover from Asia-Pacific, where markets were mixed on Friday following an overnight bounce on Wall Street led by a rebound in the tech sector. U.S. stock futures are pointing to a flat open later on Friday.
U.K. economic activity posted its strongest growth on record in May, according to flash PMI (purchasing managers’ index) readings published Friday. The IHS Markit composite PMI hit 62.0, its highest since the survey was launched in 1998 and up from 60.7 the previous month, as British services firms reopened following a prolonged lockdown period and manufacturers benefited from the global demand recovery.
In the euro zone, business growth hit its fastest pace for more than three years as the vaccine rollout gathered pace and more businesses in the bloc’s dominant services sector reopened. The initial flash composite PMI came in at 56.9 compared to April’s 53.8.
U.K. retail sales also jumped 9.2% in April, double the average projection in a Reuters poll of economists, official data showed Friday, indicating that pent-up consumer demand is beginning to kick in.
A flash euro zone consumer confidence reading is published at 3 p.m. London time.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde will hold a press conference following a Eurogroup meeting of European finance ministers at noon London time.
The European Union on Thursday agreed a deal on Covid-19 passes intended to permit tourism across the bloc this summer, as the vaccination rollout gathers pace.
Germany’s BioNTech on Thursday said the Covid-19 vaccine it developed alongside Pfizer is likely to be equally as effective against the new virus variant first discovered in India as it was against the one found in South Africa.
Stocks on the move
Richemont shares jumped 4.6% in early trade to lead the Stoxx 600 after the Swiss luxury goods company proposed doubling its dividend after a 38% rise in net profit for its fiscal year 2020/21.
At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Lufthansa shares fell more than 6% after the Thiele family, its second-largest shareholder, offloaded more than half of its stake in the airline following the death of Heinz Hermann Thiele.
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Read More: Following Wall Street rebound, economic data in focus