- Many rebel casualties during Ukrainian offensive
and sterling largely unchanged despite US jobs report
- Stronger than forecast increase in US non-farm payrolls
FTSE Mibtel 30: -0.01%
Ibex 35: 0.15%
Stoxx 600: -0.22%
European equities were for the most part lower on the day by the close, despite the release of what at first glance appeared to be a much stronger than expected reading on the US labour market, although analysts were disappointed by the sharp drop seen in the labour force participation rate and other "weak" details of the release.
Important economic indicators were also released during the morning session in Europe, with the emphasis increasingly being placed on what they tell us about the sustainability of debt burdens in the Eurozone and the need - or not - for the ECB to act on quantitative easing.
The Eurozone's unemployment rate remained unchanged during March, standing at 11.8% for a fourth month. It means that excess capacity in the labour market will continue to pressure prices lower. Furthermore, unemployment in Germany continues to be half that in France, for example, Capital Economics pointed out.
In parallel, a preliminary reading on the Eurozone's manufacturing sector was revised slightly higher, to 53.4 from 53 in the month before.
Acting as a backdrop, Ukraine launched an offensive against rebels in the city of Slovyansk. Late in the afternoon the BBC cited the country's interim President as saying that pro-Russian rebels had been killed, injured and arrested during the offensive.
According to a Kremlin spokesman, the action has killed hopes for the 'de-escalation' agreement reached between the two countries in Geneva last month.
Also worth noting, gold futures were heading towards a second consecutive weekly drop, which some reports are linking to selling by exchange traded funds.
Copper futures on the other hand were on track to confirm their largest drop in seven weeks, with market commentary attributing the move to progress on Wednesday's latest move by the US Fed to reign in its asset purchase programme.
Pfizer raises bid for AstraZeneca, Anglo-Swedish group says no
US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer raised its offer for British rival AstraZeneca to £50 from £46.61 beforehand, for a 39% premium versus the Anglo-Swedish company's market value on January 3rd. The UK-listed firm rejected the terms of the offer as inadequate, adding that it "significantly undervalued" the company.
Shares of RBS spiked higher from technical support towards 300p after unveiling first quarter profits that tripled analysts' expectations.
German chemicals powerhouse BASF saw operating profits, at the EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) level, hit €2.1bn, versus the €2.12bn anticipated by markets.
From a sector standpoint the largest losses were to be seen in the following industrial groups: Retail (-1.29%), Personal and Household goods (-1.11%) and Automobiles&Parts (-1.08%).
Euro moves slightly lower
The euro/dollar was still exactly 0.04% lower at 1.3860 by the end of trading.
Front-month Brent crude futures were advancing 0.847% to the $108.68/barrel mark on the ICE.