European Stocks Edge Lower; New EU Sanctions Target Russian Oil

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Investing.com – European stock markets edged lower Wednesday after the European Union proposed new sanctions on Russia, including on Moscow’s oil, escalating the geopolitical tension, ahead of the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy-setting meeting.

By 3:55 AM ET (0755 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.1% lower, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.1%, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.2%.

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to remove Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank (MCX:SBER) and two other banks from the international SWIFT transaction and messaging system as part of a sixth sanctions package to punish Moscow over its war in Ukraine.

The Commission head Ursula von der Leyen also put forward plans to ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters and, most importantly, the bloc will stop importing Russian oil and refined products.

“We will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year,” Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament. “This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”

Oil prices strengthened as a consequence, with U.S. crude futures 2.7% higher at $105.23 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 2.6% to $107.71. 

Crude had already been trading higher after industry data pointed to a sharp drop in U.S. crude stocks, signaling a tightness to supply in the world’s largest oil consumer.

Investors now await crude oil supply data from the Energy Information Administration, due later in the day, after data from industry body American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. crude stocks fell by 3.5 million barrels last week.

Still, losses are limited as investors are also cautious ahead of the latest Federal Reserve interest rate decision

The U.S. central bank is expected, at 2 PM ET (1800 GMT), to raise interest rates by half of a percentage point and announce the start of reductions to its $9 trillion balance sheet, intensifying efforts to bring down red hot inflation.

Corporate earnings have also remained in focus Wednesday. 

Volkswagen (ETR:VOWG_p) preferred stock rose 0.7%, outperforming the wider index after Europe’s top carmaker stuck to its outlook for the current year, citing strong first quarter results as higher margins at its premium car segment and a big financial gain on its hedging activities offset the damage done by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Siemens Healthineers (ETR:SHLG) stock rose 3.8% after the German medical device maker raised its 2022 targets due to increased demand for rapid COVID-19 antigen tests, HSBC (LON:HSBA) stock rose 1% after the U.K.-based bank launched its planned $1 billion share buyback, while Ryanair (IR:RYA) stock rose 0.4% after the budget airline’s load factor rose above 90% for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the flip side, Boohoo (LON:BOOH) stock slumped 11% after the British online fashion retailer reported a 28% fall in annual core earnings and warned of a difficult year ahead.

On the data front, final PMI readings for April are due in the Eurozone, along with March’s retail sales figures.

Additionally, gold futures traded flat at $1,870.58/oz, while EUR/USD inched higher to 1.0522.

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