European stock futures largely lower; oil soars on Middle East conflict

European stock futures largely lower; oil soars on Middle East conflict–European stock markets are expected to open largely lower Monday, as investors assess the implications of the military conflict in the Middle East and the associated surge in oil prices. At 02:00 ET (06:00 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.9% lower, CAC 40 futures in France dropped 0.3%, while the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. traded largely flat. Oil soars on Middle East conflict escalation The Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated to full-blown war over the weekend, as members of the Islamist group Hamas attacked several Israeli towns, killing hundreds of Israelis and abducted dozens more.

In response, Israeli air strikes pounded numerous targets in Gaza, resulting in numerous casualties. This new source of conflict, with the Ukrainian war still ongoing, has rattled markets, particularly oil prices. The benchmark Brent and Nymex contracts gained as much as 5%, before slipping slightly back, just when prices had been on the retreat. Last week saw oil prices post their steepest weekly losses since March, as Brent posted a decline of about 11% and WTI recorded an over 8% drop, on worries that persistently high interest rates will slow global growth and hammer fuel demand. By 02:00 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 3.7% higher at $85.81 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 3.4% to $87.47. German industrial production weakened in August Data released earlier Monday showed that German industrial production fell 0.2% on the month in August.

Although this represents an improvement from the revised 0.6% drop the previous month, Germany, the eurozone’s dominant economy, has a high exposure to energy costs, and thus a sustained rise in oil prices would be an unwelcome blow. ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos and Bank of Spain Governor Pablo Hernández de Cos along with ECB board member Andrea Enria are set to speak during the session. U.S. third quarter earnings season starts this week In corporate news, the third quarter earnings season gets underway this week, with particular focus on reports from several Wall Street banking giants, including JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) on Friday.

Earnings season could determine the near-term path for stocks, with the S&P 500 still holding a 10% gain for the year even after its recent pullback. Elsewhere, the French and German governments are set to get together later Monday at the start of a two-day retreat in Hamburg as the European Union’s two biggest powers attempt to smooth over a host of disagreements on energy, industry and defence policy. Additionally, gold futures rose 1.1% to $1,864.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% lower at 1.0554.

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