European markets set for an optimistic open; politics in focus

As a new month kicks off, markets in Asia showed a mixed picture on Friday. Investors in the region have been digesting fresh manufacturing data out of China, which showed that factory activity had contracted for the third consecutive month during February.

Stocks had previously been upbeat after index provider MSCI announced that it would quadruple the weighting of mainland shares in China later on in the year.

Sticking with the region, trade uncertainty between China and the U.S. continues to rumble on. Meanwhile, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told CNBC Thursday that trade discussions between the two nations had been going well, with “fantastic” progress being made in the last week.

This comes after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer showed scepticism and outstanding issues on negotiations in a testimony, earlier this week.

In Europe, investors continue to await further news surrounding the U.K.’s impending departure from the European Union.

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit has increased in recent weeks, as market-watchers question whether the U.K. will exit the EU at the end of March, with or without a deal — or go for an alternative, such as a “People’s Vote” or briefly delaying the departure date.

On the corporate front, William Hill, London Stock Exchange Group and WPP, are all scheduled to publish business updates on Friday.

In economic news, euro zone inflation numbers are due in morning trade.

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