- Eurozone inflation slows
- German retail sales rise
- Chicago PMI drops
- Number of Russian troops in Ukraine fall
FTSE 100: -0.26%
CAC 40: -0.45%
FTSE MIB: 0.73%
IBEX 35: 0.11%
Stoxx 600: 0.16%
European stocks were little changed as Eurozone inflation weakened and German retail sales rose.
The Eurozone consumer price index (CPI) slowed to 0.5% in March from 0.8% a month earlier, missing analysts' estimates of 0.6%.
The report is likely to add pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB), which is targeting inflation of just under 2%, ahead of its policy meeting on Thursday.
The ECB is expected to keep interest rates at 0.25%, according to consensus, but some are speculating over possible stimulus measures to tackle falling prices and high unemployment in the euro-area.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has continued to express concern over the Eurozone's low levels of inflation and has called on the central bank to pass measures.
Reza Moghadam, Director of the IMF's European Department said today the central bank still has room to cut interest rates in face of the considerable downwards pressure on inflation.
"We are not so much worried about deflation by itself, but we are very worried about what we call 'low-flation'," Moghadam said at London's City Week conference.
Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said at a conference on Saturday that the Eurozone was not in a deflationary cycle and that the ECB shouldn't overreact to the temporary slowdown in prices, according to Reuters.
Elsewhere in the euro-area, a report showed German retail sales rose 2% in February compared to a year ago following a 0.9% increase a month earlier, surprising analysts who had predicted a 0.8% gain.
In the UK, data revealed mortgage approvals fell to 70,309 in February, in comparison to 76,753 a month earlier (consensus: 75,000).
Yellen pledges continued Fed support
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said today that the central bank's "extraordinary support" for the US economy "is still needed and will be for some time".
Speaking at a conference in Chicago, she emphasised that there is still a significant room for improvement and "considerable slack" in the labour market.
Yellen had said earlier this month that the central bank could begin to increase interest rates "around six months" after the end of the bond-buying programme.
Yellen, however, made no reference to this time frame in her speech on today.
In US economic data today, the Chicago purchasing managers' index for manufacturing dropped from 59.8 to 55.9 in March, much worse than the consensus forecast of a small dip to 59.5.
A separate regional manufacturing index from the Dallas Federal Reserve revealed a rise to 4.9 in March from 0.3 in February, beating market expectations for a reading of 3.
Russian troops retreat in Ukraine
Ukrainian Defence Ministry official Major-General Oleksandr Rozmaznin said the number of Russian troops deployed on the border with Ukraine is decreasing. He was unable to confirm numbers.
"The number has definitely dropped and it (the situation) has calmed down. We won't rejoice and shout 'Hurray'. It doesn't matter how many of them there are, we just need to make sure our defences are strong," he said, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's foreign ministry has described a visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Crimea as a "crude violation" of international rules, the BBC reported.
In a note, the ministry protested the presence of an official in "the territory of another state without preliminary agreement". It comes after Russia's annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine which the US said it considers "illegal and illegitimate".
Novartis rallied after the Swiss drugmaker said the final phase of a clinical trial showed a treatment for chronic heart failure helped patients live longer.
Babcock gained after the UK government named the engineer as one of the preferred bidders to manage the decommissioning of nuclear sites.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA edged higher after its biggest investor, the Monte dei Paschi foundation, said it is selling an additional 3% stake in the Italian lender.
ING Groep jumped after the Dutch financial-services company said it plans to resume dividend payments as soon as next year following a five-year hiatus.
RWE slumped after the UBS listed the German power generator among its European utility stocks to avoid, citing weak growth.
Telekom Austria dropped after Presse reported that the company will ask for permission to sell as much as €1.5bn in new shares
at its annual general meeting on May 28th.
The euro rose 0.23% to $1.3783.
Brent crude futures fell $0.605 to $107.420 per barrel, according to the ICE.