- Euro-area manufacturing expands
- IMF urges ECB to take policy action
- Ukraine turmoil intensifies
FTSE 100: -1.91%
CAC 40: -2.52%
FTSE MIB: -2.37%
IBEX 35: -2.30%
Stoxx 600: -2.17%
Stocks in the euro-area fell as investors weighed a batch of manufacturing data and awaited this week's European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting.
The Eurozone's purchasing managers' index (PMI) for manufacturing rose to 53.2 in February from 53 in January, surprising analysts who had expected the reading to remain unchanged. A level above 50 signals expansion.
UK manufacturing PMI climbed to 56.9 last month from 56.7 in January, ahead of the consensus estimate of 56.8.
On a more downbeat note, HSBC's China manufacturing PMI fell to 48.5 in February from 49.5 in January, as expected, fuelling fears of a slowdown in the world's second biggest economy. It followed an official government report on March 1st which showed the PMI for manufacturing in February dropped to 50.2 from 50.5 the month before.
Later on the in US, a report may show the Institute for Supply Management's index of manufacturing rose to 52 in February from 51.3 in January, according to forecasts.
IMF calls on ECB to take action
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde has recommended the ECB take additional monetary policies to address high unemployment and low inflation.
In a speech at the Global Forum Spain 2014 today in Bilbao, Spain, she noted that the ECB has already taken strong measures but insisted that more should be done. "Even further accommodative policies and targeted measures are needed to address low, below-target inflation and achieve lasting growth and jobs," she said.
The ECB will hold its next policy meeting on Thursday and consensus is divided on if the central bank will take action and points to a diverse range of possible policy actions.
Credit Suisse believes the ECB will keep its policy on hold but expects the monetary authority will lower its estimates for inflation this year and next.
"A token step such as ending the Securities Markets Programme [SMP] sterilisation cannot be entirely excluded in the light of waning excess liquidity but the ECB might want to continue keeping that token step in its back pocket," the Swiss investment bank added.
EU holds emergency meeting over Ukraine
European Union foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting today to address the crisis in the Ukraine where Russian troops have invaded.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is also travelling to the Ukraine today to offer the nation support as Russian troops occupy Crimea.
Ukraine has readied its forces after Russian President Vladimir Putin received parliamentary approval over the weekend to send troops into the neighbouring country.
Carlsberg slips on Ukraine crisis
Companies with exposure to Russia tumbled including the country's biggest brewer Carlsberg.
Cancer drug maker Roche declined after a study showed no clinical benefits of its METLung lung cancer treatment.
Bouygues slumped as Chief Executive Officer Martin Bouygues met with French President Francois Hollande to seek government support for a purchase of SFR, according to Le Journal du Dimanche.
Metro was lower as Germany's biggest retailer said it plans to proceed with an initial public offering of its Russian cash and carry business to raise money for expansion.
Kuehne & Nagel dropped as the world's biggest sea-freight forwarder reported 2013 earnings that missed analysts' estimates.
The euro fell 0.28% to $1.3764.
Brent crude futures jumped $2.424 to $111.780 per barrel, according to the ICE.