VIENNA (Alliance News) - European stocks look set to open slightly higher on Thursday, tracking firm US cues and a mixed trend in Asia this morning following the release of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data. Technology stocks could be in focus after tech giant Hewlett-Packard posted a surprise increase in quarterly revenue on the back of increased shipments of personal computers and notebooks.
Traders look ahead to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech on the labor market at the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank's economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday after the July FOMC minutes suggested the US central bank may be closing in on the schedule for normalizing interest rates.
While some members made the case for a "relatively prompt" rate hike based on the economy's progress, most Fed officials are of the view that the central bank should be patient before hiking rates, the Fed minutes released yesterday showed. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is also scheduled to speak in Jackson Hole on Friday on the economy and monetary policy.
Today's economic calendar remains heavy, with investors eyeing US reports on weekly jobless claims, existing home sales, and Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity as well as PMI figures from major European economies and UK retail sales data for clues on the health of the global economy.
Asian stocks are trading mixed after a gauge of China's manufacturing activity dropped more than economists forecast. Japan'sNikkei index rose 0.8%, thanks to a weaker yen on a report the government is looking to set aside 1 trillion yen in the 2015 budget to build a stimulus fund. The benchmark indexes in China, Hong Kong and Seoul are down between 0.9% and 1.4%. In domestic corporate news, German engineering company GEA Group AG said its Executive Board has resolved to introduce a new group structure within the scope of its "Fit for 2020" initiative.
Air Berlin PLC, Germany's second largest airline, reported a turnaround to profit in the second quarter on higher revenues and lower costs. The company also announced a restructuring program aimed at returning it to sustainable profitability.
Dutch supermarket chain Koninklijke Ahold NV reported second-quarter net income attributable to common shareholders of 147 million euros, down from 206 million euros in the previous year.
European stocks fell after two days of gains on Wednesday as minutes from the latest Bank of England policy-setting meeting showed two members were in favor of hiking interest rates. The German DAX eased 0.2%, France's CAC 40 shed 0.3% and the UK'sFTSE 100 dropped 0.4%.
US stocks ended mostly higher overnight as minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting showed most officials don't expect to start raising interest rates until next year, as slack in the labor market remains a concern. The Dow rose 0.4% and the S&P 500 added 0.3%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down marginally after ending the previous session at a fresh 14-year closing high.