European stocks are set to drift modestly lower at the start of trading Friday as investors await a key series of economic growth figures Britain and the United States as well as an estimate of the pace of inflation in the Eurozone.
None of the early market moves, however, are expected to be significant in the final day of trading that has seen back-to-back triple digit gains for U.S. stocks and multi-month highs for both the pound and the euro against the greenback amid a host of stellar corporate earnings and a less-than-impressive tax reform proposal from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Against that backdrop, stocks softened overnight in Asia as investors took profits at the end of a bullish week and trimmed risky bets amid some increasing rhetoric from Trump over the a looming nuclear showdown with North Korea.
The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was marked -0.15% by 06:45 GMT while Japan's Nikkei 225 fell -0.3% to close at 19,196.74 points following disappointing manufacturing and inflation data.
Oil prices managed a small rebound, however, after falling more than 2% yesterday amid concerns over a glut in global supply, as investors focused on the chance of an extension in OPEC's 1.8 million barrel per day production cuts at the end of June.
WTI closed future for June delivery were marked 1.02% higher at $49.47 while Brent contracts were seen 1.53% higher at $52.23.
First quarter GDP data from Britain at 09:30 BST is likely to show a modest slowdown in activity as the impact of the country's decision to leave the European Union begins to take effect, however economic resilience to the Brexit vote has confounded many experts since June 23.
Data from France, however, was tepid, with weak household spending holding back growth in Europe's second-largest economy to 0.3% in the first three months of the year, down from 0.5% in the final quarter of 2016 and shy of the 0.4% tally anticipated by economists.
Eurozone inflation will also be in focus today as Eurostat, the region's official statistics agency, publishes its first estimate of consumer price increase for April at 10:00 BST. The euro has given back some of its gains against the U.S. dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi cautioned on the slow pace of inflation increases yesterday and the Bank lefts all of its key rates and policy strategies unchanged. March inflation was tabbed at an annual rate of 1.5% and slowed sharply from the 4-year high 2.2% rate recorded in February as the impact of rising oil prices lifted the headline reading.
U.S. futures prices are forecasting modest declines for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500, but an impressive set of earnings from Alphabet/Google's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report and Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report after the close Thursday are likely to boost the Nasdaq, by around 17 points the opening bell later today.