- German unemployment rises
- German inflation remains weak
- US GDP rises in Q2
- Fresh fighting between Russia and Ukraine
FTSE 100: -0.36%
CAC 40: -0.66%
FTSE MIB: -2.03%
IBEX 35: -1.06%
Stoxx 600: -0.66%
European stocks finished lower on Thursday as investors weighed worse-than-expected German unemployment data and the news regarding the conflict in Ukraine.
German unemployment increased 2,000 following a 12,000 gain a month earlier, missing analysts' forecasts for a 5,000 decrease.
The unemployment rate for August held at 6.7%, as expected.
Separately, German inflation rose 0.8% in August, unchanged from the previous month and in line with forecasts, according to the Federal Statistics Office.
Eurozone inflation figures for August are due on Friday and expected by economists to weaken to an annual rate 0.3% from 0.4% in July.
Another report out of Europe showed economic confidence dropped, with the index falling to 100.6 in August from a downwardly revised 102.1 in July. Economists had predicted a reading of 101.5.
The figures come after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi hinted last week at the possibility of introducing full-on quantitative easing to address weak inflation and a stagnant recovery.
Weighing on global stocks on Thursday was news of fresh fighting between Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko called an emergency security meeting after pro-Russian insurgents widened their attacks, taking several towns outside their strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, including near the Sea of Azov.
Syria tensions were also high, with Islamic State (IS) militants releasing a YouTube video that shows them killing 250 Syrian soldiers.
US GDP, jobless claims
The second estimate for US gross domestic product (GDP) showed that the American economy grew by an annualised rate of 4.2% in the second quarter.
It was higher than the initial estimate of 4% growth in the advance report and surprised analysts who had expected a small downwards revision to 3.9%.
US initial jobless claims fell by 1,000 to 298,000 in the week to 23 August, under the 300,000 consensus forecast. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 to 299,000.
Alpari UK analyst Craig Erlam said the US economy is looking strong with the only thing standing in the way of the first rate hike from the Federal Reserve being a delay in productivity and wage improvements.
Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen last Friday signalled that interest rates could rise sooner than previously thought. Most analysts expect the first US rate rise to come in mid-2015.
In the UK, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said it expected the economy to grow by 3.2% this year and by 2.8% in 2015, up one percentage point from forecasts of 3.1% and 2.7% three months earlier.
Ocado dropped after Redburn advised investors to sell shares
in the online grocer.
Telecom Italia advanced after Vivendi chose Telefonica to discuss a sale of its GVT unit.
Gemalto declined after reporting first-half revenue that missed analysts' estimates.
Essilor International gained after posting an 11% increase in first-half adjusted profit.
The euro fell 0.11% to $1.3179.
Brent crude futures dipped 0.19% to $102.52 per barrel, according to ICE.