- Euro-area unemployment remains high
- Eurozone confidence improves
- UK bows out of Syrian intervention
FTSE 100: -0.38%
CAC 40: -0.49
FTSE MIB: -0.49%
IBEX 35: -0.69%
Stoxx 600: -0.43%
European equities were in the red as the euro-area unemployment rate held steady and the number of young people without jobs increased in July.
The jobless rate in the Eurozone was unchanged at 12.1%, the European Union's statistics office revealed, underlining the challenges the economy continues to face. The rate was in line with economists' forecasts.
Unemployment among young people under the age of 25 increased by 0.1 percentage point to 24%.
Yet the overall number of unemployed dropped for a second month in a row in July by 15,000 to 19.23m.
Barclays said, however, it expects "job creation to be muted in the short term, and look for unemployment to continue to increase until mid-2014".
On a more positive note, the European Commission revealed that optimism in the Eurozone's economy improved sharply in August.
The measure of business managers' confidence, based on business orders, industrial confidence and other factors such as companies' hiring plans, increased by 2.7 points to 95.2, the fourth consecutive monthly rise.
Germany and the Netherlands led the way but Italy, France and Spain were also more optimistic.
In the UK, consumer confidence reached its highest level since October 2009 as economic growth was forecast to grow faster than expected.
GfK's consumer sentiment index rose to -13 in August from -16 in June when it increased by 5 points. Economists had predicted an incline to -14.
Economic growth accelerated to 0.7% in the three months through June, encouraging Britons to spend more, according to separate figures from the British Chambers of Commerce.
In the US, the University of Michigan Confidence is likely to climb to 80.5 points in August from 80.0 in July, according to forecasts. The Chicago purchasing mangers' index (PMI) report is expected to show an increase to 53 in August from the prior month's 52.3.
UK says no to Syria intervention
MPs have voted against possible UK military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.
"Receding fears over an imminent strike on Syria by Western forces have helped kick up the risk tone this Friday morning although the broader market remains cautious still," said Ishaq Siddiqi, Market Strategist at ETX Capital.
The US is planning an intervention in Syria where it believes the government used chemical weapons against civilians last week.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said America would continue to seek out an "international coalition" willing to act together on the Syrian crisis.
United Nations weapons inspectors are currently in Syria investigating the allegations of the attack, which Damascus blames on rebel forces.
Easing concerns of an imminent strike saw oil prices
drop from highs earlier this week.
Brent crude was down $0.165 to $114.970 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate futures dipped $0.993 to $107.730 per barrel.
Oil stocks slide
BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Petrofac declined after the price of oil fell as the UK's vote against Syrian intervention calmed markets.
Royal KPN retreated after the telecommunications company's independent foundation exercised an option to acquire preferred shares
in a bid to block America Movil SAB's offer.
Ferragamo gained after the Italian luxury-goods company reported first-half net income that beat analysts' expectations.
Danone plunged after the French food products firm said baby-nutrition sales will fall in Asia in the third quarter.
Hermes advanced as the French maker of Kelly bags posted a rise in first-half operating profit that exceeded forecasts.
L'Oreal rallied after reporting a record rise in first-half operating profit by 17.4% to €2.04bn.
The euro/dollar dropped 0.02% to the 1.3239 dollar