* EZ business recovery stutters in August- PMI
* UK firms see sharp August upturn - PMI
* Stronger pound weighs on exporter-heavy FTSE 100
* Robust retail sales in the UK in July
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EUROPEAN SHARES SHRUG OFF PMIS (0918 GMT)
Euro zone PMIs came in weaker than last month as the economic recovery from its deepest
downturn on record has stuttered, particularly in services. The STOXX 600 is nevertheless
cruising on 0.4% higher.
IHS Markit's flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index, seen as a good gauge of economic
health, sank to 51.6 from July's final reading of 54.9.
The pent-up demand unleashed last month by the easing of coronavirus lockdowns dwindled in
"Positive effects from reopening economies are fading out in the service sector, confirming
that the recovery will not be V-shaped," says Bert Colijn, economist at ING.
Yet, "European stocks shrug off faltering flash PMIs," "writes Michael Hewson, chief market
analyst at CMC Markets UK, in line with the lack of reaction in the Nasdaq to other negative
U.S. headlines this week.
Meantime, the recovery among British businesses from the shock of the pandemic quickened
again in August, the UK PMI survey showed.
OPENING SNAPSHOT: THE STRUGGLE TO FIND A TREND (0725 GMT)
European bourses are struggling to find its direction this morning as investors await for
The pan European index was positive at the start of the session (+0.4%), than
negative, now it is up 0.2% and all of this in the first 25 minutes of trading.
Travel stocks led gains, up 1.2%.
In terms of single companies, Irish building and insulation materials firm Kingspan
jumped 7% to the top of the index after its CEO said the company saw significant pent up demand
But Swiss drugmaker Novartis gave the biggest boost to the STOXX 600 after it won
U.S. health regulator's approval to repurpose an 11-year-old blood cancer drug against multiple
In the UK, blue-chips started the day with slim gains as strong retail sales data
alleviated some concerns over an extended economic slowdown, but a stronger sterling dragged on
exporter stocks. At 0725 GMT the FTSE is down 0.3%.
UK retailers led gains in early trade, with Marks & Spencer and
sportswear retailer Frasers rising 2% and 4%.
ON THE RADAR: CARS, RETAILERS AND DRUGMAKERS (0639 GMT)
European bourses are seen opening higher with eurozone and UK purchasing managers' index
surveys due this morning. Steady, slightly positive, readings are expected, for the next broad
gauge of the recovery's progress.
Meantime, data just showed that British retail sales surged past their pre-coronavirus level
in July, the first full month that shops selling non-essential goods were open since the country
went into lockdown in March.
In terms of corporate news, the morning looks super quiet but investors still have a few
headlines from last evening to digest.
For instance, German automaker Volkswagen has begun production of the ID.4
compact SUV, the second model in a planned family of electric vehicles that will be built and
sold around the world.
In the health care space, Novartis won FDA approval to repurpose an 11-year-old
blood cancer drug against multiple sclerosis as the Swiss drugmaker takes on rival Roche's ROG.S
big-selling Ocrevus for the autoimmune disorder. While Bayer said on Thursday it will
pay around $1.6 billion to settle the majority of U.S. claims involving its Essure birth-control
Activist fund Amber Capital on Thursday called on French publishing and media group
Lagardere to hold a shareholder meeting in the coming weeks, at which it wants to
submit board changes.
MORNING CALL: EUROPEAN BOURSES SEEN HIGHER AHEAD OF PMI DATA (0535 GMT GMT)
In a data-heavy morning, with eurozone and UK purchasing managers' index surveys due,
European bourses are seen opening higher.
Investors are looking ahead to PMI data across Europe, Britain and the United States.
Steady, slightly positive, readings are expected, for the next broad gauge of the recovery's
Financial spreadbetters expect London's FTSE to open 9 points higher at 6,023, Frankfurt's
DAX to open 73 points higher at 12,903 and Paris' CAC to open 25 points higher at 4,937.