- Slight profit taking at the start of trading
- Capital flight in Russia may be worse than admitted by Moscow
- Weak Chinese CPI numbers, Wall Street lower overnight
- Technology and Telecommunications lead retreat
FTSE 100: -0.23%
Dax 30: -0.31%
Cac 50: -0.40%
FTSE Mibtel 30: -0.47%
Ibex 35: -0.25%
Stoxx 600: -0.27%
European equity markets have begun the session with small declines as traders look to take some profits off the table while keeping an eye on the latest developments in the Ukraine region.
Stocks rose sharply on Thursday after the European Central Bank all but pre-announced that it would move to ease monetary conditions in the single currency area further come its next meeting, in June.
Wall Street finished lower overnight and the latest Chinese consumer price data out this morning printed well beneath analysts´ forecasts, although that may herald further policy accommodation from Beijing going forward.
Acting as a backdrop, The Wall Street Journal cites US lawmakers as last night having explained that when they talk of "sectoral sanctions" against Russian industries they are in fact referring to very targeted measures. In parallel, The Daily Telegraph referenced data from the ECB showing that capital flight out of the Russian Federation may be four times more than admitted to by the Kremlin, possibly complicating the ECB´s task.
For its part, Moscow is now asking Ukraine to pre-pay for June natural gas shipments.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Prime Minister Francois Hollande will meet today on the Baltic coast. That meeting will take place against the backdrop of the current situation in Ukraine, with some observers describing recent conciliatory comments from Russia´s President as an attempt to "white-wash" its role in the current crisis.
Weak industrial production in the Netherlands
Dutch industrial production contracted at a 3.8% month-on-month pace in March (consensus: -0.8%).
Germany´s trade surplus increased in March to €16.4bn, from €16.2bn in the month before (consensus: €17.4bn) .
Technology and Telecommunications lead declines
Telefonica reported a 14% drop in first quarter operating income before depreciation and amortisation to €3.93bn (consensus: €3.97bn).
Belgacom unveiled first quarter operating profits of €412m, falling slightly shy of analysts´ projections.
From a sector stand-point, the worst performance was to be seen in the following industrial groups within the DJ Stoxx 600: Technology (-0.55%), Telecommunications (-0.50%) and Utilities (-0.49%).
Euro steady at 1.3840
Front month Brent crude futures were 0.543% higher at $108.63/barrel on the ICE.
The single currency was 0.01% lower at 1.3840 versus the US dollar.