European shares are expected to follow their Asian counterparts higher on Friday, in the first trading day of the new year.
Trading volumes are expected to be thin in Europe, as they have been in Asia, during the first trading session of 2015. Asian equities were quiet given a lack of foreign cues and economic data releases. Markets in China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines remained shuttered for the holiday season. In Europe, markets in Russia and Switzerland are closed on Friday.
In currency markets, the euro was trading around a 29-month low against the dollar of $1.2058 on Friday. It came after the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi said in an interview with German financial paper Handelsblatt that the risk of the central bank not fulfilling its mandate of preserving price stability was higher now than half a year ago, Reuters reported. Draghi reiterated the central bank’s readiness to act with further stimulus measures early this year, should it become necessary.
A slight rebound in oil prices did little to boost sentiment in Asia. Benchmark Brent crude was trading at $57.33 a barrel on Friday, while U.S. crude futures gained 80 cents to rise over $54 a barrel early in the trading session, supported by last week’s larger-than-expected fall in U.S. crude stocks. However, the rise was pressured by China’s weak factory activity in December.
In other news, a specialist multinational team armed with acoustic equipment will arrive at the suspected crash site of a AirAsia jet off Borneo on Friday, bolstering the search for the plane’s black box flight recorders. Bad weather has hampered search efforts, so far.