European Stocks Edge Lower; Brexit Concerns Weigh

European Stocks Edge Lower; Brexit Concerns Weigh

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse

Investing.com – European stock markets edged lower Tuesday, with Brexit uncertainty weighing despite the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine and likely monetary and fiscal stimulus.

At 3:55 AM ET (0855 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.1% lower, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.1% and the U.K.'s FTSE index also fell 0.1%.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels for crisis talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen later Tuesday as negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal threaten to collapse.

Continued differences over fishing rights, fair competition and ways to solve future disputes threaten to spike a deal over how to govern around $1 trillion in annual trade before Britain's privileges under the transition agreement expire at the end of the month.

Adding to the worries is the impact of the winter surge of the Covid-19 virus that has caused a string of renewed lockdowns, including strict measures in the U.S. state of California and South Korea. In Europe's largest economy, German state governments are increasingly tightening restrictions on business life, although they continue to resist pressure from Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel for a nationwide clampdown.

The U.K., meanwhile, started vaccinating its public with the Pfizer/BioNTech injection earlier Tuesday, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration meets to discuss this vaccine on Thursday. European authorities are expected to authorise its rollout by the end of the month.

Additionally, the European Central Bank holds its latest policy-setting meeting on Thursday, with the central bank widely expected to increase and extend its pandemic bond-buying program.

On Capitol Hill, Republican and Democratic negotiators continue to try to reach an agreement on a Covid-19 relief package, with last month's weak payrolls data adding a degree of immediacy.

In corporate news, Ashtead (LON:AHT) stock rose 4.3% after the industrial equipment rental company lifted its full-year guidance despite reporting a 10% fall in pretax profit for its fiscal second quarter.

Oil prices edged higher Tuesday, continuing recent gains ahead of U.S. inventories numbers.

Data due from the American Petroleum Institute later Tuesday and from the U.S. government on Wednesday are expected to show that U.S. crude stocks fell last week.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $45.80 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.1% to $48.86. Both benchmarks lost around 1% Monday, but this followed five consecutive weeks of gains.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,869.70/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.2125.

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