- German inflation in line with forecasts
- Spanish consumer prices fall
- Chinese inflation misses estimates
- Russian troops ready to act, says NATO
FTSE 100: -0.57%
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IBEX 35: -0.38%
Stoxx 600: -0.17%
European stocks were in the red as investors weighed inflation data in Germany, Spain and China, while the waited on the latest quarterly earnings from US financial sector heavyweights JP Morgan and Wells Fargo.
In European harmonised terms, German consumer prices rose by 0.9% year-on-year last month, the first time they have dropped under 1% in June 2010. On the month, prices increased 0.3%.
The figures were in line with forecasts.
In Spain, inflation decreased for the first time in five months in March.
Consumer prices fell 0.1% year-on-year, compared to the initial estimate of a 0.2% decline. Prices rose by 0.2% month-on-month after staying flat a month earlier.
The European Central Bank (ECB), which is targeting inflation of just below 2%, has faced mounting pressure to tackle falling inflation in the euro-area.
The ECB is expected to ease policy in June, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists released yesterday.
In China, inflation rose 2.4% year-on-year following a 2% increase in February. However, consensus had forecast an increase of 2.5%.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices in the world's second largest economy dropped 0.5% from the prior month, in line with consensus. In February inflation had risen by 0.5% on the month.
It fuelled concerns of a slowdown in China and followed weak trade figures, slower credit issuance and big declines in property sales.
People's Republic of China Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday rebuffed calls for stimulus, saying that the country has the "capabilities and the confidence to keep the economy functioning within a proper range".
Russian troops in high state of readiness , NATO says
Russian military units deployed in more than 100 makeshift bases just across the Ukraine border are in a state of high readiness, according to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Briefing reporters in Belgium, NATO officers showed for the first time commercial satellite images of fast aircraft, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and temporary bases of troops it assessed to be airborne or special forces.
A senior military officer described Russia's military movements as "destabilising" to the region.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain high after Moscow's takeover of Crimea last month.
Tech and travel stocks fall
Technology stocks in Europe slid following in the footsteps of US peers yesterday. ARM Holdings and Infineon Technologies were among the biggest fallers in the sector.
A gauge of travel and leisure companies slid on the Stoxx 600, including International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), after a statement from Heathrow Airport Holdings showed the number of passengers passing through the UK airport fell by 2.8% in March from a year earlier.
Firstgroup declined after Nomura Holdings downgraded the bus-and-rail operator to 'neutral' from 'buy', citing increased costs and poor weather in the US in the first quarter.
Bauer AG slumped after the construction group posted a 2013 net loss of €19.4m, compared with a profit of €25.8m year earlier.
German steelmaker Salzgitter AG rallied after Citigroup upgraded the shares
to 'buy' from 'neutral', citing construction-related demand in Europe.
Thales retreated after JPMorgan Chase downgraded the French defence-electronics maker to 'neutral' from 'overweight' following weaker-than-expected forecasts for sales and cost reduction through 2017-18.
Givaudan edged lower as comparable sales at its flavour division rose 5.8% in the first quarter, missing the 6.5% increase estimated by analysts.
Mediaset Espana slipped as it was suspended for the first hour of trading after Credit Suisse Group AG sold a 3.7% stake in the Spanish media company on behalf of Promotora de Informaciones SA.
The euro rose 0.05% to $1.3893.
Brent crude futures increased $0.009 to $107.450 per barrel, according to the ICE.