European stock markets traded largely unchanged Tuesday, with investors searching for cues given a light data calendar and a U.S. holiday. At 03:30 ET (07:30 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded flat, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. traded largely unchanged. There’s little economic data due for release Tuesday to guide sentiment, especially with U.S. markets on holiday as the country celebrates Independence Day. The exception is German export and import numbers for May. These showed the country’s exports fell 0.1% on the month in May, indicative of the difficult trading environment that Europe’s manufacturing powerhouse is attempting to cope with. The June manufacturing activity data for the eurozone was disappointing, data showed Monday, with surveys showing factory activity in all four of the region’s biggest economies contracted last month as persistent policy tightening by the European Central Bank hit hard. Ryanair flies record numbers in June In corporate news, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair (IR:RYA) flew a record 17.4 million passengers in June, its highest for a single month and a 9% increase from a year earlier. These strong figures came even after the airline, Europe’s largest by passengers carried, canceled more than 900 flights, affecting some 160,000 customers, mainly due to air traffic control strikes last month. Elsewhere, J Sainsbury (LON:SBRY) reported revenue gained 9.8% on a like-for-like basis in the first quarter, prompting the U.K. supermarket to stick with its previous full-year guidance even as it unveiled substantial price reductions on household staples, responding to pressure to pass on price cuts to customers wherever possible.
China Restricts Exports of Semiconductor Metals
Investors will also digest the latest salvo from China in the war between Beijing and the West over access to key high-tech microchips, with China announcing it will curb the exports of some metals widely used in the semiconductor industry. The Wall Street Journal reported early Tuesday that the U.S. is also preparing to curb Chinese companies’ access to cloud computing services, including those of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). RBA holds interest rates steady Earlier Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate at an 11-year high of 4.10%, seeking time to assess the impact of the 400 basis points of hikes since May last year. However, Australia’s central bank also warned that further tightening might be needed to bring inflation back under control. Aggressive monetary tightening by a series of major central banks, including the European Central Bank, has been a key influence in driving trading sentiment throughout much of this year. Oil helped by supply cuts Oil prices traded higher Tuesday, with traders weighing more supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia against signs of weakening economic activity across the globe. Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it will extend its recently announced 1 million barrels per day cuts to August and potentially beyond, while Russia also said it will trim its oil exports by 500,000 bpd. However, any gains are likely to be limited with U.S. markets on holiday and following weak manufacturing activity readings from the U.S., Germany and China on Monday. By 03:30 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.8% higher at $70.36 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.8% to $75.25. Additionally, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,934.35/oz, while EUR/USD traded just lower at 1.0908.