- Eurozone industrial output falls unexpectedly
- US unemployment claims drop
- Syria agrees to give up chemical weapons
FTSE 100: -0.04%
CAC 40: -0.39%
FTSE MIB: -0.27%
IBEX 35: 0.55%
Stoxx 600: -0.14%
European equities were mixed as Eurozone industrial production fell and US unemployment claims declined.
Factory output in the 17-nation region dropped 1.5% compared to June's 0.3% increase, missing the consensus for a 0.2% decline, according to Eurostat.
In Germany, Europe's largest economy, industrial production was down 2.3% in July from June.
The report sparked concerns among traders that the Eurozone was headed for a further slump.
It came as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reaffirmed the monetary authority's forward guidance on interest rates, saying it expected them to remain "at present or lower levels for an extended period".
The bank left its key rate unchanged at 0.5% last week but Draghi said policymakers had toyed with a possible rate cut, due to concern about money market rates and the uncertain nature of the recovery.
In the US, initial weekly unemployment claims dropped by 31,000 to 292,000 in the week ended September 7th, the lowest level since April of 2006. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 323,000.
However the Labor Department report said the sharp drop was due to technical problems in some states collecting claims data and as well as the Labor Day holiday-shortened week.
The Federal Reserve is turning to such economic indicators to weigh whether the US has recovered enough to begin scaling back its $85bn per month in bond purchases.
Economists are mixed on whether the Fed will start tapering at its next policy meeting on September 17th to 18th.
Syria agrees to relinquish chemical weapons
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has confirmed that he will agree to Russia's plan to place chemical weapons under international control.
He made the announcement on Russian TV's Rossiya 24 as US and Russian foreign ministers prepared to meet in Geneva to discuss the proposal.
The US has said it would consider Russia's recommendation to have Syria hand over its chemical weapons to international control in exchange for avoiding military action.
President Barack Obama has called for a military strike if diplomacy failed after Assad's regime allegedly used chemicals weapons against civilians on August 21st.
"The news that Syria is willing to give up its chemical weapons to the international community to be destroyed and that the US is willing to consider this has provided a major boost to the markets," said Craig Erlam, Market Analyst at Alpari Research.
"As we can see by the approval ratings in most countries, people do not want another war and this provides an alternative. Obviously, it's unlikely to be plain sailing from here, with complications arising along the way, but this is an encouraging development from last week."
Home Retail, EDF
Home Retail jumped after reporting an 11% increase in same-store sales at its Homebase home-improvement business in the 13 weeks ended August 1st.
Électricité de France slumped after Norges Bank launched the sale of a €289m stake in the utility company on Wednesday evening.
Morrison Supermarkets advanced after raising its dividend and saying its restructuring plan was on track as it reported half-year results.
Sanofi plunged after withdrawing a US application for a diabetes drug.
Aggreko fell to lead miners lower after Deutsche Bank cut its 2013 and 2014 earnings per share forecast and reduced the target price to 1870p from 2100p, citing risks of competition, contractual problems and pricing pressures.
Other asset classes rise
Brent crude futures increased $0.854 to $112.460 per barrel on the ICE.
The euro edged up 0.03% to the 1.3315 US dollar.