European Shares Seen Opening On Firm Note

European stocks may open a tad higher on Friday after the death toll from coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,483 in China, but the number of new infections in hard-hit Hubei province fell.

A day before, the reclassification of the COVID-19 cases in Hubei brought a huge increase in the global tally, casting doubts over the scale of epidemic.

Asian markets remain mostly lower after U.S. benchmark indexes snapped a three-day streak of record highs overnight on fears over coronavirus threat to economic growth and businesses.

The focus shifts to trade as China is set to halve tariff rates on certain U.S. products worth about $75 billion effective today.

Tariffs on some U.S. goods will be cut from to 5 percent from 10 percent, while tariffs on other goods will be lowered to 2.5 percent from 5 percent.

Earlier today, the United States halved the 15 percent tariff rates imposed on $120 billion of Chinese imports as part of the phase one trade deal that was signed last month.

Japanese yen held onto gains against the dollar and gold held steady near a one-week high, while oil prices traded flat and were on track to post their first weekly gain in six weeks on expectations that major producers will implement deeper output cuts to offset slowing demand in China.

Quarterly national accounts from Germany and euro area are due today, headlining a busy day for the European economic news.

The largest euro area economy is forecast to grow 0.1 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, the same pace as seen in the third quarter.

Eurozone GDP is forecast to grow 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, in line with previous estimate.

Economists expect the euro area trade surplus to fall marginally to EUR 19 billion in December from EUR 19.2 billion in November.

Across the Atlantic, reports on retail sales, industrial production and consumer sentiment may sway sentiment.

U.S. stocks fluctuated overnight before finishing lower amid news of a jump in new coronavirus cases due to the adoption of new methodology for counting infections.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.2 percent.

European markets ended broadly lower on Thursday as a spate of new coronavirus cases dented demand for riskier assets.

The pan European Stoxx 600 ended little changed with a negative bias. The German DAX ended marginally lower and France’s CAC 40 index eased 0.2 percent while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 lost as much as 1.1 percent as the pound powered to record its highest level since December 16 against the euro.

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