European stocks inch higher as global markets rally on easing US-Iran tensions


European stocks are set to open higher on Friday as world markets rally on the back of easing tensions in the Middle East.

Britain’s FTSE 100 is seen climbing 31 points to 7,626, Germany’s DAX jumping 30 points to 13,519 and France’s CAC rising 19 points to 6,054, according to IG index data.

Global market sentiment has improved in the latter half of the week amid a de-escalation in U.S.-Iran tensions. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Iran appeared to be “standing down” following missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. The attacks were in retaliation to Washington’s killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

Reports emerged Thursday claiming a Ukraine-bound flight that crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran had been shot down by an Iranian missile. Government officials say it could have been downed by mistake. Iran’s aviation regulator dismissed the claims as “illogical rumors,” and Tehran maintains the aircraft crashed due to a technical problem.

Still, stocks worldwide have been boosted by the easing tensions, as well as optimism over U.S.-China trade relations. MSCI’s broadest index of international share markets rose 0.6%, hitting an all-time high.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is due to sign an initial “phase one” trade deal with the U.S. next week. Liu will visit Washington on Jan. 13-15, Beijing said on Thursday.

Back in Europe, U.K. lawmakers approved legislation that will allow the country to exit the EU on Jan. 31 with a withdrawal deal. Meanwhile in France, the government has stood its ground on proposed pension reforms despite protests from tens of thousands of demonstrators across the country.

In corporate news, Volkswagen is due to announce vehicle delivery numbers, while Jaguar Land Rover releases global sales figures for 2019. As for economic data, French manufacturing figures for November are due later this morning.

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