- German consumer confidence rises
- S&P downgrades rating of EU
- UK GDP revised upwards
- UK consumer confidence falls
FTSE 100: 0.15%
CAC 40: -0.11%
FTSE MIB: 0.22%
IBEX 35: -0.26%
Stoxx 60: 0.22%
European equities were little changed as German consumer confidence rose more than expected and as Standard & Poor's (S&P) downgraded its rating of the European Union (EU).
GfK's forward-looking consumer sentiment indicator for Germany rose to 7.6 points in January from 7.4 points in December, the highest level since August 2007. Economists had expected it to remain unchanged.
The research company said the "consumer climate is off to a good start in 2014", indicating that domestic demand will remain a key driver of economic growth.
Consumer confidence figures for the Eurozone will be released later today and the index expected to increase to -15 in December from -15.4 the prior month.
On a negative note for markets this morning, S&P stripped the EU of its triple-A rating due to a decline in overall creditworthiness and decreasing cohesion amidst its 28 members.
The agency cut the region's credit rating to 'AA+' from the prior 'AAA' with a stable outlook.
"In our view, EU budgetary negotiations have become more contentious, signalling what we consider to be rising risks to the support of the EU from some member states," S&P said in the report.
UK GDP, consumer confidence
The UK economy is growing faster than previously forecast, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Gross domestic product (GDP) was up 0.8% in the July-to-September period compared with the previous quarter. It was in line with previous figures but growth in the earlier quarter was revised up. On a year-on-year basis, growth was 1.9%, revised up from an earlier estimate of 1.5%.
GfK's consumer confidence index for the UK fell from -12 to -13 in December, surprising analysts who had expected a small tick-up to -11.
Later in the US, GDP data may confirm a 3.6% annualised expansion in the third quarter.
It comes two days after the Federal Reserve announced a tapering of its monetary stimulus and said it would continue to gradually introduce further reductions if data points to further recovery in the world's biggest economy. The central bank reduced monthly asset purchases to $75bn from $85bn.
Lundin Petroleum retreated after Norway said the Swedish oil explorer drilled a dry well.
BAE slumped after the defence company said yesterday that the United Arab Emirates ended talks to buy its Eurofighter Typhoon.
Telenet gained after Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the stock to 'buy' from 'neutral', citing growth prospects.
Cruise operator Carnival continued to advance as executives said yesterday both pricing and booking levels are returning to historical norms after being decimated by ship problems.
The euro fell 0.07% to $1.3651.
Brent crude futures rose $0.145 to 110.450 per barrel, according to the ICE.