LONDON — European markets were muted on Friday, as investors assessed global economic indicators and rising Covid-19 cases in the search for direction.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 inched 0.15% above the flatline in early trade, with insurance stocks adding 0.4% while tech stocks slipped 0.5%.
Shares in Asia-Pacific retreated in Friday’s trade, with South Korea’s Kospi leading losses among major markets as shares of firms tied to conglomerate Samsung tumbled following the release of the company’s heir from prison.
Weekly jobless claims came in on par with expectations at 375,000, a third consecutive decline, while producer prices rose 0.9% in July against a forecast of 0.5%, calling into question whether inflation has peaked.
Overnight, MSCI’s aggregate gauge of global stock markets hit a new record high.
“Arguably, markets are now more focused on the state of play regarding Covid, and in particular, the spread of the Delta variant,” Xian Chan, chief investment officer for wealth management at HSBC, said in a note.
“But regardless of where you look, the general view (and hope) is the broad success of vaccination programmes will allow the recovery story to continue in H2 this year.”
Back in Europe, Adidas has sold Reebok for up to $2.5 billion to Authentic Brands, as the German sportswear giant opts to focus on its central brand. Adidas shares added 2% following the news.
Ipsen shares plunged more than 11% in early trade to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after the French pharmaceutical company withdrew a new drug application in the U.S.
At the top of the European blue chip index, German food company GEA Group climbed 4% after reporting a rise in second-quarter profit.
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