- US jobless claims fall
- US and UK economies grow
- Eurozone private sector loans decline
FTSE 100: 0.06%
CAC 40: -0.31%
FTSE MIB: -1.21%
IBEX 35: 0.13%
Stoxx 600: -0.12%
European stocks were mixed at Thursday's close as investors digested a raft of economic data in the US, Europe and the UK.
In the US, jobless claims fell by 5,000 to 305,000 in the week ended September 21st, according to the Labor Department, compared to 309,000 claims a week earlier.
Economists had pencilled in a reading of 325,000. Jobs data is seen as an important indicator for the Federal Reserve when deciding whether the US economy has improved enough to start scaling back its monetary easing.
Another important indicator release were the revised figures on gross domestic product (GDP) which on Thursday showed the world's largest economy rose at an annualised pace of 2.5% in the second quarter. It was unrevised from the initial estimate after expanding 1.1% in the first quarter and compared to an estimate of 2.6%.
US sales of previously owned homes fell for the third straight month in August. The index of pending home sales dropped 1.6% after a revised 1.4% decrease in July. Consensus was for a 1% fall. It signalled a slump in housing market recovery as mortgage rates rise.
Also in the US, debt ceiling talks are ongoing as the government has until Monday to agree to an emergency budget or face a shutdown on October 1st.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on Wednesday the US will hit its debt ceiling by October 17th, leaving the government with $30bn of cash - half the money it needs to pay its bills.
"Clearly investors hate the uncertainty surrounding these talks," said Alpari Market Analyst, Craig Erlam.
"Investors are currently concerned about the possibility of a partial government shutdown if no budget for the next year is passed by next week, followed by a default on US debt in the middle of the month, should the debt ceiling not be raised."
Eurozone loans, UK GDP
Private sector loans in the Eurozone fell by 2% in August compared to a year earlier, signalling that small companies and households are still struggling to benefit from the European Central Bank's (ECB) monetary easing.
The data pointed to an ongoing credit crunch in which companies and households are having a tough time trying to secure funding.
It also showed that one of the ECB's key problems is still not fixed despite providing what some consider is sufficient liquidity to banks.
ECB President Mario Draghi has discussed the possibility of new long-term refinancing operations, but it remains to be seen whether the extra liquidity will boost economic recovery.
Also weighing on markets on Thursday was the release of Italy's retail sales, which fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in July compared to a 0.2% drop in June.
On a brighter note, France's consumer confidence rebounded in September, to reach a seven-month high. INSEE's indicator for consumer sentiment rose from 84 last month to 85, in line with the consensus estimate.
The UK economy grew in line with market expectations in the second quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics.
GDP rose by 0.7% when compared to the previous three months when it increased at the same quarterly rate.
Spain's Rajoy addresses unemployment
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the government may ramp up the overhaul of labour laws following advice from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Bloomberg reported.
The government is reviewing the impact of the 2012 overhaul and will submit the assessment to the OECD in an effort to reduce the country's 26% unemployment rate.
"If it were necessary or useful to do a touch-up so that things worked better, have no doubt that we would do it," Rajoy said.
Thomas Cook, Ladbrokes
Thomas Cook plunged after the tour operator said summer bookings were broadly flat and winter got off to a slow start.
Ladbrokes tumbled after issuing a profit warning for its digital division due to lack of competitiveness and lower-than-planned margins.
Mapfre dropped after Bankia SA sold a 12% stake in Spain's biggest insurer.
Interdealer broker ICAP declined after agreeing to pay £55m to UK and US regulators as part of the long-running scandal over the alleged manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) by three former employees between 2006 and 2011.
H&M rallied after reporting a 22% rise in third quarter profit to 4.43bn kroner, beating analysts' expectations.
Vinci advanced following reports the European builder could sell all or part of its parking unit.
Alcatel Lucent gained after reports Nokia Oyj was evaluating a linkup with the French global mobile phone manufacturer.
Brent crude climbs
Brent crude futures rose $0.551 to $108.920 per barrel on the ICE.
The euro fell 0.27% to the 1.3489 US dollar.