- Weekly US jobless claims rise
- Chicago PMI falls
- Argentina misses debt payment
- Eurozone inflation unchanged
- Eurozone unemployment falls
FTSE 100: -0.64%
CAC 40: -1.53%
FTSE MIB: -1.52%
IBEX 35: -2.10%
Stoxx 600: -1.31%
European stocks dropped following a mixed bag of economic data and disappointing results from companies including Banco Espirito Santo and Adidas.
Acting as a backdrop, overnight the US Federal Reserve struck a slightly more hawkish tone, with analysts at Danske Bank saying they now project a first hike in interest rates arriving in April 2015, instead of towards the middle of next year.
US initial weekly unemployment claims rose by a slightly greater-than-expected 23,000 in the week ended 26 July to 302,000, according to the US Department of Labor. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 300,000. The previous week's estimate was revised sharply lower to 279,000.
The report comes ahead of Friday's official government monthly jobs data.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday noted that while the labour market was improving it still had room to grow, as it decided to keep interest rates unchanged and cut a further $10bn from monthly bond purchases.
Another US report on Thursday showed manufacturing activity unexpectedly fell in July. The Chicago purchasing managers' index declined to a reading of 52.6 from 62.6 in June, well below forecasts of 63.5 but above the 50 level that signals expansion.
In another blow to the market, Argentina missed a deadline on Wednesday to pay $539m in interest after failing to agree on an accord with creditors from its last default in 2001.
Eurozone inflation, unemployment
Eurozone inflation remained unchanged at 0.8% in July, as expected. The European Central Bank has been under pressure to do more to boost weak prices.
Unemployment in the euro-area fell to 11.5% in June from 11.6% a month earlier. Analysts had predicted it to remain unchanged.
German unemployment declined 12,000 in July, after rising 7,000 the prior month. Economists had pencilled in a drop of 5,000. The unemployment rate held at 6.7%.
Elsewhere in the bloc, the European Union froze the assets of two Russian oligarchs Wednesday night as part of further sanctions to make Moscow withdraw support from rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Banco Espirito Santo, Adidas
Banco Espirito Santo dragged Portuguese equities lower after posting a first-half €3.6bn loss. The Bank of Portugal required the lender to raise capital following its results. At one point in the session the shares
had halved in value after being suspended from trading at the start of the day.
Adidas was also weighing on European equities after the sportswear firm forecast 2014 net income of €650m, compared with a previous estimate of €930m.
Afren retreated as the French network-equipment maker reported second quarter sales that trailed market expectations.
Royal Dutch Shell surged after earnings more than doubled in the second quarter.
Alcatel-Lucent slumped as the French network-equipment maker reported second-quarter sales that missed forecasts.
Balfour Beatty dropped as the UK construction company ended talks to merge with rival British builder Carillion.
The euro fell 0.10% to $1.3383.
Brent crude futures dipped 0.529% to $105.95 per barrel, according to the ICE.