- Weaker than expected Eurozone PMIs
- ECB policy makers expect a deal on Cyprus
- Cyprus would rather exit euro than commit suicide
- Banks deposited 130.5bn euros overnight at ECB
FTSE Mibtel 30: -0.32%
Ibex 35: -0.81%
Stoxx 600: -0.57%
European equities have opened the session moderately lower, caught in the downdraft of the much weaker than expected economic data out in the Eurozone this morning, in the form of the latest purchasing managers' surveys out from Markit.
The above has trumped the unfolding crisis in Cyprus as the main driver of the market this morning.
The country's ex-Socialist Presidential candidate, Girogos Lillikas, this morning remarked that: "I hope our partners are not asking us to choose between committing suicide and leaving the euro," ekathimerini reports.
Nevertheless, European Central Bank (ECB) officials have been cited today as saying they expect a Cyprus support plan by Monday.
The Mediterranean country's banks are now expected to remain closed until next Tuesday, while the European Central Bank has committed to providing liquidity until Monday. The latter puts the onus on the government in Nicosia to find a viable solution by then.
Also weighing on equity markets, and technology stocks more particularly, is the 7% fall seen overnight in shares
of US software maker Oracle.
Not all is bad news however. Thus, and acting as a backdrop, are the better-than-expected figures on Chinese manufacturing which were released in Beijing overnight.
As well, the Federal Reserve seems to have been given little indication yesterday that it may be contemplating a reduction in the $85bn pace of its monthly asset purchases.
Diverging results from retailers
French luxury group Hermes has reported a 26.4% increase in operating profits for 2012. Operating margins rose to record levels.
Fashion retailer Hennes&Mauritz has posted lower-than-expected first quarter earnings.
From a sector stand-point, and on the company front, the worst performance is now to be seen in the following sectors: Automobiles (-1.72%), Chemicals (-1.40%) and Technology (-1.23%).
Very weak PMI numbers
The Markit manufacturing sector purchasing managers' index for the month of March in the Eurozone has come in at 46.6, versus 47.9 for the month before (Consensus: 48.2).
In parallel, the service sector gauge dropped to 46.5 from 47.9 (Consensus: 48.2).
Particularly worthy of being mentioned are the very weak readings seen in the numbers for the German services sector.
The Dutch unemployment rate worsened to 7.7% in February from 7.5% in the month before (Consensus: 7.6%).
Switzerland's money supply accelerated to an annualised rate 9.8% in February, after 9.4% in the month before.
Other asset classes drift lower
The euro/dollar is drifting lower by 0.27% to the 1.2903 dollar
Front month Brent crude future are now retreating by 0.369 dollars to the 108.13 dollar mark on the ICE.