European shares were slightly higher Wednesday morning, as investors awaited economic data and monitored the prospect of a longer, broader trade war.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up around 0.3 percent during early morning deals, with almost all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
Europe’s banks and financial services led the gains shortly after the opening bell, with both sectors up around 0.9 percent.
Looking at individual stocks, Italy’s Atlantia rose toward the top of the European benchmark during morning trade. It comes after J.P. Morgan raised its stock recommendation for the infrastructure group to “overweight” from “neutral.” Shares of the Milan-listed firm rose over 2 percent on the news.
Meanwhile, France’s Orange tumbled to the bottom of the index. The telecoms operator announced Wednesday that it plans to follow in the footsteps of rival companies by carving out its mobile towers in most European countries where it is present. Shares of Orange dipped more than 4 percent.
On the data front, Italy will publish composite PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) figures for November shortly after the opening bell.
France and Germany will both release Markit services PMI data for November slightly later in the session, while a final reading of euro zone Markit services PMI data for November will be released at around 9 a.m. London time.
Market focus is largely attuned global trade developments after President Donald Trump said a limited trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the 2020 presidential election.
Speaking to reporters in London on Tuesday, Trump said he had “no deadline” for striking a deal with Beijing. It had previously been expected the world’s two largest economies could sign a so-called “phase one” trade deal before the end of 2019.
Earlier in the week, Trump threatened to slap duties against French goods and imposed tariffs on Argentina and Brazil imports. It appears to have dampened market sentiment at a time when many had hoped the U.S. and China might be able to de-escalate an ongoing trade war.
In the U.K., several world leaders have gathered in London to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO.
The U.S. president is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, before holding a working lunch with representatives from the U.K., Greece, and some central and eastern European countries.