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European Stocks Lower; Industrial Output Data Point to Economic Slowdown

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Investing.com – European stock markets weakened Friday, weighed down by disappointing regional economic data ahead of the release of key U.S. employment numbers for December. 

At 3:40 AM ET (0840 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.6% lower, the CAC 40 in France dropped 0.3% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 0.2%. 

German industrial output fell 0.2% on the month in November, data from the Eurozone’s largest economy showed Friday, a sharp decrease from October’s 2.4% gain.

“Unfortunately, this is where the rebound of German industry stops for the time being,” said Carsten Brzeski, an analyst at ING. “The fourth wave of the pandemic and Omicron should send industrial activity back into hibernation.”

This weakness was also seen in France, where industrial production fell 0.4% on the month in November, after climbing 0.9% the previous month.

Still, losses are minor Friday with many investors keeping their powder dry ahead of the release of the widely-watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls data later Friday, especially after the Federal Reserve pointed to a tight labor market as a key reason for turning hawkish in December. 

The payrolls are expected to have risen by 400,000 in December, almost doubling November’s disappointing 210,000 rise, with the unemployment rate seen falling to 4.1% from 4.2%. 

However, Wednesday’s private payrolls report, which is often used as a guide to the government’s, showed companies added 807,000 jobs last month, more than twice the number expected, suggesting potential upside to the official number.

In corporate news, STMicroelectronics (PA:STM) stock rose 3.7% after the chip maker said its preliminary fourth-quarter revenues were slightly above the guidance given at the end of October, in the context of a global microchip supply crunch.

Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) stock fell 0.1% despite the energy giant stating it will channel $5.5 billion in proceeds from the sale of its Permian assets into a rapid stock buyback.

Oil prices rose Friday, fuelled by concerns over global supply, largely on the back of unrest in Kazakhstan, a member of the OPEC+ alliance that is gradually adding oil back to the market.

TCO, Kazakhstan’s biggest oil producer and a joint venture led by Chevron (NYSE:CVX) , confirmed Friday it has altered output amid unrest and protests in the country, but declined to provide further details on the size of the adjustment. President Tokayev said that order had been largely restored after the arrival of troops from the Russian-led CSTO alliance, of which Kazakhstan is a member.

By 3:40 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% higher at $79.72 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.3% to $82.25. Both contracts were on track for gains of more than 6% in the first week of the year, with prices at their highest since late November.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,787.80/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.1309.

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