European stock markets traded mixed Friday, with positive news from the dominant German manufacturing sector data helping while the U.K. market underperformed amid concerns about the cost of the government’s pandemic relief policies.
At 3:55 AM ET (0755 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.4% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.3% and the U.K.’s FTSE index was down 0.1%.
The important German manufacturing sector proved its resilience in August, with IHS Markit’s flash PMI estimate rising to 53.0 from 51.0, reaching its highest level in nearly two years.
Overall, the news wasn’t very impressive, with the service sector dragging the overall composite German index to 53.7 from 55.3 in July. This was still above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction, but was the first drop after three months of gains.
French business activity also disappointed in August, with IHS Markit saying its preliminary composite purchasing managers index fell to 51.7 points from 57.3 in July.
Earlier Friday, U.K. retail sales rose more than expected, surged past their pre-coronavirus level in July, showing the strength of consumer demand even as the economy as a whole struggles to recover from the Covid-19-inspired hit.
That said, the extent to which the U.K. government has had to support the wider economy was vividly illustrated Friday, as Britain’s public debt went above 2 trillion pounds ($2.65 trillion) for the first time in July.
In corporate news, Kingspan (LON:KSP) stock rose 7.4% as the Ireland-based builder said it was well placed to come through the coronavirus crisis in a strong position, seeing significant pent up demand post-lockdown.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis (SIX:NOVN) climbed 1.2% after it won U.S. health regulator’s approval to repurpose an 11-year-old blood cancer drug against multiple sclerosis.
Oil prices weakened Friday, after an internal report from the major producing states flagged demand concerns as they tried to limit supply to market.
An internal report by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies indicated that some members of the group, known as OPEC+, would need to slash output by 2.31 million barrels per day to make up for producing more that they had committed to, Reuters reported.
That said, the report also flagged demand risks, showing OPEC+ expects oil demand in 2020 to fall by 9.1 million barrels per day, 100,000 bpd more than in its previous forecast, and by 11.2 million barrels if a Covid-19 second wave occurs globally in the second half of the year.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% lower at $42.62 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.4% to $44.71.
Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,945.30/oz. EUR/USD traded 0.2% fell at 1.1837.