- Eurozone investor confidence grows
- Industrial output grows in Italy, falls in France and Spain
- Chinese exports decline, inflation eases
- Japan's GDP revised downward
- Russian forces advance in Ukraine
FTSE 100: -0.35%
CAC 40: 0.10%
FTSE MIB: 0.58%
IBEX 35: 0.30%
Stoxx 600: -0.50%
European stocks were little changed following the release of a slate of Eurozone and Asia data.
A report this morning from Sentix showed Eurozone investor confidence rose in March to the highest level since April 2011. The composite confidence index climbed to 13.9 this month from 13.3 in February, missing forecasts for a reading of 14.0.
Separately Italy's statistics office ISTAT revealed industrial production in the nation, excluding construction, grew by 1% month-on-month in January, its largest monthly increase in more than two years. The consensus estimate had been for an increase of 0.5%.
French industrial output fell 0.2% month-on-month in January, the country´s statistics office, INSEE said. Analysts had expected a rise of 0.3%. The previous month was revised to show a drop of 0.6% over the month instead of the 0.3% initially calculated.
Spain's industrial production was unchanged in January versus the prior month, according to the country´s statistics office, INE. Economists had predicted a rise of 1.8% year-on-year.
In other euro-area news, European finance ministers met in Brussels today to thrash out a deal on how to handle failing banks.
They said an agreement would be the final step in their effort to create a banking union that would stabilise the financial system.
"We all have to make an effort to reach a compromise," French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici insisted upon his arrival for the meeting.
Chinese and Japanese data
China reported an unexpected trade deficit for February after exports slumped 18.1%, fuelling concerns that the world's second-largest economy is suffering a serious slowdown.
The country's National Bureau of Statistics also showed consumer prices rose at their slowest rate in 13 months in February as pork prices fell by their most in over a year. The consumer price index rose 2% in February from a year earlier, slightly missing analysts' expectations of 2.1%.
In Japan, the current account deficit hit a record 1.5trn yen (around £8.7bn) in January, which comes ahead of a planned tax increase on sales next month - a move that had been expected to prompt higher spending in the lead up to the release.
Japan's fourth quarter gross domestic product grew just 0.7% on an annualised basis, a downward revision from the initially projected 1% growth rate.
Fed needs to speed up tapering, says Plosser
Philadelphia Fed policymaker Plosser said the central bank may need to accelerate the pace of cuts to its bond buying programme in light of an improving economy.
Speaking in Paris, he said: "Reducing the pace of asset purchases in measured steps is moving in the right direction, but the pace may leave us well behind the curve if the economy continues to play out according to the FOMC forecasts."
Fed Chair Janet Yellen has indicated that the bank will continue to wind back quantitative easing until ending it all together later this year.
The Fed next meets on March 18th to 19th.
Ukraine tensions flare
Russian forces advanced in Ukraine's Crimea region today after rebuffing diplomacy efforts by Western leaders. The US estimates the Kremlin now has 20,000 troops confronting a smaller Ukrainian force in Crimea.
Crimeans will vote in a referendum on March 16th whether to join Russia.
Germany's Angela Merkel yesterday said the Moscow-backed referendum was illegal and violated Ukraine's constitution.
Mining stocks decline on China fears
A gauge of mining stocks declined, including Aurubis and Fresnillo, as a report showing weak Chinese exports pushed down the price of commodities.
Aryzta slid as the supplier of bakery products said its first-half margin on earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) remained at 12.3% for its food unit, missing analysts' estimates.
Rolls-Royce advanced on news Daimler is selling its holding in Rolls-Royce Power Systems.
Vodafone Group dropped following news the company could offer as much as €7.5bn for Grupo Corporativo Ono SA.
Hochtief rallied after Germany's largest builder offered AU$1.16bn to raise its stake in Leighton Holdings to as much as 74% from 59%.
The euro fell 0.01% to $1.3874.
Brent crude futures dipped $0.833 to $108.100 per barrel, according to the ICE.