LONDON — European stocks advanced on Friday as global markets looked to regain some ground after a bruising week, with investors assessing the outlook for inflation and interest rates.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 1% in early trade, with banks climbing 1.9% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.
European markets fell on Thursday as investors remained concerned about slowing growth, interest rate hikes and red-hot April inflation data from the United States, which sparked concerns that a path of aggressive interest rate hiking lies ahead.
US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that he could not guarantee a so-called “soft landing” that tempers inflation without pushing the economy into recession.
Global stocks have endured a rollercoaster week but look set to regain some ground on Friday. Shares in Asia-Pacific advanced by mid-afternoon with Japan’s Nikkei 225 leading the way on a 2.6% climb.
Meanwhile, US stock futures were higher in early premarket trade as investors hope the S&P 500 can avoid sliding into bear market territory, with the index closing down more than 18% from its all-time high on Thursday, just 2% shy of an official bear market.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq is already in a bear market, closing Thursday down more than 29% from its all-time high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has failed for six consecutive trading sessions.
The Stoxx 600 in Europe began Friday’s session down 13% since the beginning of the year.
Investors are also monitoring the geopolitical fallout from the war in Ukraine. Russia on Thursday threatened retaliation against Finland after Finnish leaders said the northern European nation must apply to join NATO “without delay.”
European leaders are also facing a race to secure alternative gas suppliers after Moscow announced sanctions on European subsidiaries of its majority state-owned corporation Gazprom. The move came after Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator suspended Russian flows into Europe through a key entry point.
On the data front, French inflation was confirmed at an annual 5.4% in April.
Euro area industrial production readings for March are due on Friday morning.
In terms of individual share price movement, British investment company Bridgepoint Group jumped more than 10% following its annual general meeting, while Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum climbed 9.9% in early trade.
Shares of Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB fell 13% after the US Food and Drug Administration said it cannot approve a key psoriasis drug.
Swedish industrial company Atlas Copco dropped 75% due to recalculation after a share split which came into effect on Friday, whereby one share was replaced by four new ordinary shares and one redemption share.
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