European stock futures point to a flat-to-higher open Friday following a mixed finish the day before. The euro is gaining ground against the dollar, lifting copper slightly while crude futures are little changed after tumbling to a seven-month low overnight, pressured by data showing a weaker U.S. economy and bloated stock piles.
Asian markets are trading mostly lower, albeit posting modest losses after the release of weak Chinese manufacturing data. Investors eagerly await the all-important U.S. non-farm payrolls data later in the day after a private-sector report indicated the world's largest economy is losing momentum.
China's manufacturing expansion slowed in May, partly due to a substantial reduction in new orders, a survey by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed. The index fell more than expected to 50.4 in May from 53.3 in April, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion of the sector.
Showing considerable divergence with the official PMI numbers, the final HSBC manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 48.4 in May from 49.3 in April, indicating seventh successive month of deteriorating operating conditions in the manufacturing sector.
Closer home, the British Chambers of Commerce lowered its economic growth forecasts for this year and called on the government to initiate measures aimed at boosting growth.
In its latest quarterly economic forecast, the group said it expects the economy to grow 0.1 percent in 2012, weaker than 0.6 percent estimated previously. However, it lifted the growth forecast for 2013 to 1.9 percent from previously forecast 1.8 percent.
In economic releases, unemployment and final purchasing managers' survey results from eurozone are the major statistical reports due in the European session. Meanwhile, counting of ballots in Ireland's referendum on the European fiscal treaty will begin later this morning, with early results expected by the afternoon.
In corporate news, Dutch phone company Royal KPN N.V.'s supervisory board and the board of management announced that they unanimously recommend shareholders not to take any action in respect of América Móvil S.A.B. de C.V.'s unsolicited partial offer.
Ceradyne, Inc. said its German-based unit, ESK Ceramics, GmbH & Co., has purchased a minority interest in Chemtrix for an undisclosed amount.
BT Group Plc announced the sale by BT Global Services of its French application development services business to the publicly listed French IT services company Osiatis, which would be effective as of 1 June 2012.
European stocks gave back their early gains to end on a mixed note Thursday, as a slew of disappointing economic reports indicated the U.S. economy is not growing as fast as many expected. Worries over the possible outcome of the latest Greek elections on June 17 and comments from the ECB that it cannot fix the cause of the region's turmoil also kept investors on edge.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks eased 0.1 percent and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, lost 0.2 percent. Around Europe, The German DAX slid 0.3 percent and the SMI of Switzerland dropped 0.9 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent and France's CAC 40 ended largely unchanged with a positive bias.
U.S. stocks fell overnight, but ended off their worst levels of the day, after reports said that the International Monetary Fund is in talks to provide a bailout to Spain, although the IMF later denied the reports. The sell-off seen in early trading came as traders reacted negatively to a slew of U.S. economic data, including a report from payroll processor ADP showing weaker than expected private sector job growth and data from the Labor Department showing a rise in claims for jobless benefits for the seventh week in eight.
Investors were also discouraged by reports showing slower than previously estimated first-quarter GDP growth and a downbeat reading on Chicago-area business activity. The Dow and the S&P 500 slid about 0.2 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 0.4 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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