European markets set to open slightly lower; UK economy falls to record 9.9% slump in 2020

European stocks were set to open slightly lower on Friday, as investors awaited a fresh batch of economic data and monitored the gathering pace of vaccinations against Covid-19.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 was seen down around 20 points at 6,508 shortly before the opening bell, Germany's Dax 30 was poised to open 33 points lower at 13,998 and France's CAC 40 index was seen down 6 points at 5,658, according to IG.

It comes amid muted trade in Asia Pacific due to the Lunar New Year holiday. Markets in China and most of southeast Asia are closed on Friday. China's stock and bond markets, foreign exchange and commodity futures markets will remain closed through to Feb. 17.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia and Japan slipped into negative territory. Australian stocks were down 0.6%, while shares in Tokyo edged 0.1% lower.

Stateside, futures tied to the major U.S. equity benchmarks dipped in overnight trading as Wall Street appeared on course to close the week with modest gains. The major averages have climbed to record levels, though a strong rally seen in early February seems to have taken a breather.

Back in Europe, official figures published Friday showed the U.K. economy slumped 9.9% in 2020, posting its biggest annual fall in output since modern records began.

The U.K.'s GDP (gross domestic product) rose 1% in the final three months of the year, as the country imposed nationwide lockdown measures once again in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Russia's central bank will announce its latest interest rate decision slightly later in the session, although the lender is widely expected to maintain lending rates at record low levels.

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