- Bank and utilities drag stocks lower
- UK GDP revised slightly lower
- German consumer confidence rises
- US new home sales increase
- Yields on 10-year bunds lower as Russia prepares military excercises
FTSE 100: -0.46%
CAC 40: -0.40%
FTSE MIB: -0.37%
IBEX 35: -0.18%
Stoxx 600: -0.20%
European stocks declined as Credit Suisse led banks lower following reports US regulators are investigating its accounting practices.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said to be looking into claims Credit Suisse improperly moved money in its private-banking unit to conceal a drop in asset growth.
Utility stocks, including RWE and EON, were also among the biggest fallers in Europe after energy regulator Ofgem unveiled new rules that will mean major energy suppliers will face tougher scrutiny to ensure a "simpler, clearer, fairer" market.
Under the new enforcements, which come into play at the end of March, the largest six suppliers in the UK will have to trade fairly with independent suppliers in the wholesale market, or face financial penalties.
UK GDP, German consumer confidence
The Office for National Statistics confirmed today that UK gross domestic product (GDP) in the final three months of 2013 rose 0.7% quarter-on-quarter, unrevised from an earlier estimate and in line with forecasts. Growth was driven by consumer spending and a turnaround in the housing market.
In Germany, GfK's forward-looking index for consumer confidence rose to 8.5 in March from a revised 8.3 in February, surprising analysts who had expected a reading of 8.2.
The upbeat data comes ahead of the European Central Bank (ECB)'s policy meeting next week.
ECB President Mario Draghi has indicated the central bank will consider action to tackle falling inflation and high unemployment at its March meeting following the release of more comprehensive data, including economic forecasts.
Credit Suisse expects the bank will also revise down its inflation projections in March. Inflation is currently at 0.8%, well below the ECB's 2% target.
In the US, sales of new single-family homes in the US rose by 9.6% to reach an annualised rate of 468,000 in January, according to the US Department of Commerce. The consensus estimate was for growth of 405,000.
It was otherwise thin on economic data in the US ahead of a busy day tomorrow with the release of reports on US durable goods orders and initial jobless claims and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony to Senate.
Tesco slumped after Oriel Securities downgraded stocks from an 'add' to 'hold' rating after the supermarket chain launched £200m of price cuts and said it was stepping up its store revamp programme.
Lanxess was down as the chemicals maker predicted it would report a net loss of €159m for 2013 when it publishes final figures on March 20th.
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world's biggest brewer, advanced as it reported a rise in fourth quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations.
Repsol rallied following news Argentina will issue as much as $6bn in bonds that the Spanish oil company can sell or hold until maturity.
Swiss Life climbed as the life insurer raised its 2013 dividend to 5.50 francs a share from the previous year's 4.50 francs against analysts' predictions for no change.
Russia preparing military excercises
Yields on 10-year bunds were three basis points lower as the Russian Federation announced it was preparing military excercises.
The euro fell 0.57% to $1.3667.
Brent crude futures rose $0.264 to $109.800 per barrel, according to data on the ICE.