European stocks set for cautious open ahead of crucial EU summit

European stocks looked set for a flat open on Thursday with European leaders set to meet as the U.K. and EU scramble to finalize a Brexit deal.

The FTSE 100 was seen opening around 8 points higher at 7,176, the DAX was expected to edge 7 points lower to 12,663 and the CAC 40 was set to tick around 4 points down to 5,693, according to IG data.

The bid for a last-gasp deal on Britain’s departure from the EU will likely dominate the two-day summit in Brussels. Any prospective deal will need approval from the 27 European leaders who meet on Thursday, before requiring ratification from the British parliament.

The latter remains a hurdle for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who does not hold a parliamentary majority and has struggled to win over opposition lawmakers in Westminster since taking leadership of the ruling Conservative Party in July.

Shares in Asia Pacific were also mixed on Thursday, with the exception of Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, which rose on the back of a strong session for property developer shares after leader Carrie Lam announced measures to ease a housing shortage and calm ongoing anti-government protests.

Weak U.S. retail sales data also weighed on stocks overnight, with an unexpected drop raising concerns about the state of the world’s largest economy.

Staying stateside, U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are working on phase one of a trade deal text to be presented to presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Back in Europe, the European Central Bank (ECB) plans to implement a substantial stimulus package in full despite disagreements within its Governing Council over the move being made public, according to French central bank president Francois Villeroy de Galhau.

However, he added that a broader review of the bank’s policy framework is welcome.

On the data front, U.K. retail sales for September are expected at 9:30 a.m. London time.

Source: CNBC