- China reports trade deficit
- Japan's account deficit hits record
- Eurozone investor confidence report out
FTSE 100: 0.17%
CAC 40: 0.60%
FTSE MIB: 0.53%
IBEX 35: 0.47%
Stoxx 600: 0.07%
European stocks were little changed as investors weighed Chinese data and awaited the release of a report on the Eurozone's investor confidence.
China reported an unexpected trade deficit for February after exports slumped 18.1%, fuelling concerns that the world's second-largest economy is suffering a serious slowdown.
Separately, the National Bureau of Statistics showed China's consumer prices rose at their slowest rate in 13 months in February as pork prices fell by their most in over a year. The consumer price index rose 2% in February from a year earlier, slightly missing analysts' expectations of 2.1%.
"A miss on trade and inflation data from the world's second largest economy will put pressure on the mining sector this morning, many of which are significant components of the FTSE 100," said David White, Trader at Spreadex.
In Japan, the current account deficit hit a record 1.5trn yen (around £8.7bn) in January, which comes ahead of a planned tax increase on sales next month - a move that had been expected to prompt higher spending in the lead up to the release.
In Europe this morning, a report on Eurozone investor confidence for March will be released. The sentiment index is expected to increase to 14 from 13.3 the previous month.
Later on in the US, Federal Reserve official Charles Plosser will speak at a panel in Paris as the central bank's next policy meeting looms. The Fed meets on March 18th and 19th when it is anticipated to announce another round of monetary stimulus tapering.
Meanwhile, concerns over the ongoing unrest in the Ukraine continue to escalate as Moscow refused to bow to pleas from Western leaders to withdraw its troops from Crimea. "Indeed, the market is notoriously bad at pricing in geopolitical risk and has a tendency to overcharge for volatility, presenting binary outcomes through sometimes chaotic price shocks," White said.
Miners slide on China fears
A gauge of miners declined including Antofasgasta and Fresnillo as weak Chinese data pushed the price of commodities, including copper, lower.
Bouygues SA edged higher following reports it is in talks to sell its network and some spectrum to Iliad SA for as much as €1.8bn.
SGS dropped after the Swiss testing and inspection firm said its Finance Chief Geraldine Matchett was resigning, effective July 2014.
The euro climbed 0.07% to $1.3885.
Brent crude futures fell $0.973 to $107.950 per barrel, according to the ICE.