European markets head for higher open; Ukraine war remains in focus

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LONDON — European stocks are expected to open higher Thursday as investors keep an eye on developments in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The U.K.’s FTSE index is seen opening 16 points higher at 7,636, Germany’s DAX 45 points higher at 14,392, France’s CAC 40 up 14 points at 6,638 and Italy’s FTSE MIB 12 points higher at 24,545, according to data from IG.

The war in Ukraine remains at the forefront of market participants’ minds in Europe, with the second phase of the conflict, focusing on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, fully underway now.

Russia has set a new ultimatum for surrender in the heavily destroyed city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces and reportedly hundreds of civilians are holed up in the Azovstal steel plant. Meanwhile, officials in Ukraine continue to call for more weapons support and faster delivery as Russia intensifies its bombardment of the Donbas.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy if they would take meetings with him in their respective capitals.

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U.S. stock futures rose in overnight trading as investors digested more quarterly reports from the likes of Tesla and United Airlines. Weekly jobless claims are also slated for release on Thursday.

In Asia-Pacific markets overnight, shares were mixed as investors continue to watch China’s Covid-19 situation along with moves in the Japanese yen.

Investors are watching for signs of policy support from Chinese authorities as the mainland continues to grapple with its most severe Covid wave since the initial outbreak in 2020. Its strict zero-Covid policy has raised questions about China’s economic outlook.

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— CNBC.com staff contributed to this market report.

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