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European stocks inch lower ahead of Powell's speech

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany August 26, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

(Reuters) – European stocks inched lower on Friday ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s speech that could offer hints on the timeline for slowing of its bond purchases programme.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.2% in early trading, with travel & leisure and banks leading declines after gaining for much of the week.

Investors were squarely focussed on Powell’s speech at the Jackson Hole summit at 1400 GMT after fresh calls for early tapering from a few hawkish Fed policymakers unsettled investors on Thursday.

European and U.S. stocks are trading near record levels, but worries about the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, slowing economic momentum and a gradual paring back of stimulus have all weighed on investor sentiment recently.

A survey showed French consumer confidence eased marginally in August, dragging down the country’s blue-chip CAC 40 index by 0.3%.

Just Eat Takeaway.com, which owns GrubHub, fell 2.3% after the New York City Council approved legislation to license food-delivery apps and permanently cap commissions they can charge restaurants.

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