- German imports and exports rise
- Russia rebuffs US proposal to end Ukraine crisis
- BoE indicates QE exit to be drawn out affair
- EU finance ministers work on bank deal
FTSE 100: -0.06%
CAC 40: -0.48%
FTSE MIB: 0.39%
IBEX 35: -0.31%
Stoxx 600: 0.03%
European stocks ended the session mixed as German imports and exports rose and as Ukraine tensions persisted.
German exports jumped 2.2% in January, well above the 1.5% forecast, the Federal Statistics Office revealed today. Overseas shipments had fallen 1% in December. Imports advanced 4.1% in January, compared to a drop of 1.4% the previous month and the consensus estimate of a 1.4% increase.
As a result, the seasonally-adjusted trade surplus narrowed to €17.2bn from a revised €18.3bn in December.
Meanwhile, markets remained jittery over tensions between the Ukraine and Russia.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has rejected offers to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin until Moscow considers US proposals to end the turmoil in Ukraine.
Russia is reportedly drafting a counter offer to a US proposal to "de-escalate" the crisis. Washington has demanded that Moscow pull back its troops from Crimea and end attempts to annex the region.
BoE sees no end in sight for QE
In their testimony before the Treasury Select Committee members of the Monetary Policy Committee apparently implicitly indicated that the central bank may never fully unwind its quantitative easing or, at least, that it might be a very drawn out affair.
The Bank's £375bn monetary easing programme started five years ago during the height of the financial crisis.
Governor Mark Carney said he did not expect the BoE to begin scaling back QE until there had been "several adjustments" in interest rates, signalling that it could take years.
In other UK news, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed industrial production expanded by 0.1% month-on-month and 2.9% year-on-year in January.
The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 0.2% (2.9% year-on-year).
Output from manufacturing rose by 0.4% over the month (3.3% year-on-year), as expected.
EU tackles bank-failure law
European Union finance ministers today claimed they made "good progress" on talks in Brussels to break a deadlock on a laws on failing banks in the euro-area.
Policymakers are working on a compromise deal on the Single Resolution Mechanism and a common fund to cover the cost of saving or closing banks.
However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said today he sees little room to compromise with the European Parliament on the law.
The deadlock continues over how to make bank resolution decisions, how fast to create the new €55bn fund and how to ensure its liquidity.
ECB President Mario Draghi last week warned there would be severe consequences for the euro-area and its banking union should they fail to reach a deal before May's parliament elections.
Inchcape surged after the car dealership delivered record annual results, driven by demand for luxury vehicles.
Hannover tumbled after the reinsurer reported a drop in fourth quarter earnings due to weakness in life and health reinsurance.
Geberit rallied after the maker of bathroom fittings and plumbing products said Christian Buhl will take over as Chief Executive from Albert Baehny at the beginning of 2015.
Galenica declined after the drugmaker said it forecasts 2014 profit to be at least at the same level as last year, below market estimates.
Close Brothers edged higher after the UK financial services company increased its interim payout to 16.5p, beating analysts' estimates.
African Barrick Gold slumped following reports that the company has started selling a 10% stake in its African unit.
The euro fell 0.13% to $1.3859.
Brent crude futures rose $0.074 to $108.160 per barrel, according to the ICE.