- Eurozone investor confidence grows
- Industrial output grows in Italy, falls in France and Spain
- Eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels
- China reports trade deficit, inflation eases
FTSE 100: 0.16%
CAC 40: 0.52%
FTSE MIB: 0.60%
IBEX 35: 0.37%
Stoxx 600: -0.06%
European stocks were mixed as traders weighed a batch of reports in the euro-area.
Eurozone investor confidence rose in March to the highest level since April 2011, according to a survey today from Sentix. The composite confidence index climbed to 13.9 this month from 13.3 in February. It missed forecasts for a reading of 14.
Industrial production in Italy, excluding construction, grew by 1% month-on-month in January, its largest monthly increase in more than two years, according to the country´s statistics office, ISTAT. 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´s percentage variation was revised lower, 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.
The data comes after the European Central Bank (ECB) last week raised its expectations for euro-area economic growth this year. The gross domestic product forecast was revised higher to 1.2% from December's estimate of 1.1%. The ECB predicts growth of 1.5% in 2015 and 1.8% the following year.
Meanwhile, Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels at 14:00 GMT for the monthly meeting of the so-called Eurogroup without new issues on the agenda.
They are expected to continue negotiations on a final agreement for a common resolution mechanism for failing banks as part of the eventual banking union. Finance ministers remain under pressure to complete the legislative process for the mechanism before the final assembly of the European Parliament in mid-April.
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.
Separately, the National Bureau of Statistics showed China's 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.
Later on in the US, Federal Reserve official Charles Plosser will speak at a panel in Paris as the central bank's next policy meeting looms. The Fed meets on March 18th and 19th when it is anticipated to announce another round of monetary stimulus tapering.
Meanwhile, concerns over the ongoing unrest in the Ukraine continue to escalate as Moscow refused to bow to pleas from Western leaders to withdraw its troops from Crimea. "Indeed, the market is notoriously bad at pricing in geopolitical risk and has a tendency to overcharge for volatility, presenting binary outcomes through sometimes chaotic price shocks," Spreadex trader David White said.
Iliad climbs on Bouygues deal
Iliad SA advanced after Bouygues SA said it is in talks to sell some of its mobile-phone assets to the operator of the Free brand.
Rolls-Royce Holdings gained after Daimler AG said it will sell a 50% stake in an engine joint venture to the British company.
A gauge of miners including Antofasgata and Fresnillo slid as weak Chinese data pushed the price of commodities lower.
Vodafone Group dropped following news the company could offer as much as €7.5bn for Grupo Corporativo Ono SA.
Mondi edged higher after Citigroup raised its rating of South Africa's biggest packaging company to 'buy' from 'neutral', citing strong earnings growth and increasing dividends.
The euro held at $1.3875.
Brent crude futures fell $0.823 to $108.110 per barrel, according to the ICE.