- BoE sees no need to raise interest rates
- UK jobless rate falls unexpectedly
- Eurozone debt drops
- Syria peace talks begin
FTSE 100: -0.13%
CAC 40: -0.22%
FTSE MIB: -0.16%
IBEX 35: -0.67%
Stoxx 600: -0.06%
European stocks declined as the Bank of England's (BoE) minute meetings indicated that the central bank sees no need to raise interest rates if the jobless rate hits its seven per cent threshold.
Unemployment fell to 7.1% in the three months to November from 7.4% the previous quarter, well under the consensus forecast of 7.3%.
The BoE's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has vowed to keep its benchmark rate at the record low of 0.5% at least until unemployment drops to 7% under its forward guidance.
Yet minutes from its January 8-9th policy meeting showed that the central bank sees no immediate need to raise rates.
However, today's jobs report is likely to put pressure on the BoE to change its forward guidance with regard to interest rates.
"Such a dramatic drop in unemployment leaves the BoE in a pickle - unemployment is now just 0.1pp above its 7% threshold," according to UniCredit.
"The MPC would not have known today's labour market report at the time of its 8-9th January meeting, but it was already playing catch-up with the previous fall in the unemployment rate. As such we expected the minutes to be 'dovish' in an attempt to talk rates down - but surprising the MPC chose not to do this."
Eurozone debt registers first decline in six years
The Eurozone's debt in relation to gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of the third quarter stood lower than in the previous quarter, according to Eurostat data published on Wednesday.
The Eurozone's government debt to GDP ratio dropped to 92.7%, compared to the 93.4% registered in the prior quarter. Eurostat said it was the "first decrease in absolute terms for the euro area since the fourth quarter of 2007".
Syria peace talks
Syria's Opposition leader Ahmed Jarba accused President Bashar Al-Assad of war crimes that recalled Nazi Germany at a United Nations peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
Jarba demanded the Syrian government immediately sign up to an international plan for a transition of power as talks kicked off in Geneva.
His remarks come amid violence in Syria and claims that the country's military killed civilians using chemical weapons near Damascus in August last year.
Sage Group advanced after the software-publishing company said it expects to meet its target of 6% revenue growth in 2015.
Lanxess declined as JPMorgan cut its 12-month price estimate on the maker of specialty chemicals to €28 from €37 and reiterated an 'underweight' rating.
Rautaruukki Oyj surged after SSAB AB announced plans to buy the Finnish steelmaker.
Societe Television Francaise 1 gained after Discovery Communications Inc. said it will increase its stake in the company's Eurosport unit.
ABB Ltd. slumped after the power and automation technology company said charges from project delays and operational issues will hurt profit.
The euro fell 0.05% to $1.3554.
Brent crude futures rose $0.633 to $107.410 per barrel, according to the ICE.