Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening lower Thursday, as investors take some profits after this week’s strong gains with Covid-19 cases continuing to mount and optimism over the ready availability of a vaccine waning.
Global stock markets have soared this week following the positive news from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) over the Covid-19 vaccine it is developing, in conjunction with German partner Biontech (NASDAQ:BNTX).
However, some of this optimism is starting to wane as investors take stock of the logistical challenges of mass-producing and transporting the vaccine as well as the number of Covid-19 cases throughout Europe showing no signs of slowing down.
The official coronavirus death toll in the United Kingdom passed 50,000 on Wednesday, the most in Europe, with more than 300,000 people having died across the continent.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde cautioned Wednesday over expecting too much too soon from a Covid-19 vaccine.
“While the latest news on a vaccine looks encouraging, we could still face recurring cycles of accelerating viral spread and tightening restrictions until widespread immunity is achieved,” Lagarde said at the ECB Forum on Central Banking.
Economic data Thursday showed the U.K. economy grew by 15.5% in the July-September quarter, a rebound of sorts from the record-breaking fall of 19.8% between April and June. However, growth slowed to 1.1% in September, from August’s 2.1%, suggesting more tough times to come.
In corporate news, Deutsche Telekom (OTC:DTEGY) raised its earnings guidance as its reported forecast-beating third-quarter results, lifted by outperformance at its recently-merged U.S. unit T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS).
German engineering group Siemens (DE:SIEGn) also reported better-than-expected profit at its industrial business. In the U.K., luxury fashion group Burberry said it would push its prices up after its sales nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels in its fiscal second quarter, while insurer and asset manager Legal & General announced a new five-year dividend growth policy.
Oil prices edged higher Thursday, buoyed by news of a potential coronavirus vaccine and signs of falling U.S. crude inventories.
Traders are also now looking for the major oil producers, a group known as OPEC+, to maintain supply curbs. OPEC+ meets at the end of the month to discuss a supply increase of 2 million barrels per day scheduled for January, amid growing expectation that the move will be postponed.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s crude oil supply data, due later in the day, will also be of interest.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.1% higher at $41.50 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.1% to $43.84. Both contracts are up more than 12% this week.