- Investors weigh mixed data
- British retail sales and public finances to be released
- EU imposes Ukraine sanctions
FTSE 100: 0.44%
CAC 40: 0.06%
FTSE MIB: -0.32%
IBEX 35: -0.27%
Stoxx 600: 0.25%
European stocks were little changed as investors weighed mixed economic data in the Eurozone and the US yesterday.
Weaker-than-expected Eurozone manufacturing and services data pushed stocks lower at the start of the session yesterday, but a stronger-than-predicted US manufacturing report saw the market pick up later on.
The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for manufacturing in the euro-area slipped to 53 from 54 in January, while the services measure rose to 51.7 from 51.6, Markit Economics. Economists had predicted a reading of 54 for manufacturing and 51.9 for services. However, it remained above the 50 level that signals expansion.
Markit's US 'flash' manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) jumped to 56.7 in February, up from a three-month low of 53.7 in January, representing the best growth in activity since May 2010 and exceeding the 53.6 forecast.
Also in the US consumer prices rose by 1.6% year-on-year in January, up from the 1.5% rate a month earlier, as expected. On the month inflation increased 0.1%, matching economists' estimates, easing from 0.2% in December.
Today's agenda will be relatively quiet with the focus on British retail sales, UK public finances and US existing home sales.
EU agrees to Ukraine sanctions
The European Union (EU) has agreed to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials "responsible for violence" which have left about 75 people dead.
EU foreign ministers said targeted sanctions including asset freezes and visa bans would be introduced as a matter of urgency.
"No circumstances can justify the repression we are currently witnessing," a statement from EU foreign ministers said on Thursday.
Three months ago the EU had hoped Ukraine would sign a far-reaching trade and cooperation deal with Brussels, but Yanukovich turned it down in late November.
The nation instead won a $15bn bailout deal from Russia, which sparked weeks of street protests that picked up this week.
Valeo gained after the French auto-parts maker posted half-year earnings that beat analysts' estimates.
Axa SA declined after Europe's second-largest insurer reported full-year profit that fell short of market expectations.
Kering SA dropped after growth at its Gucci luxury-goods brand slowed more than analysts had projected.
The euro fell 0.05% to $1.3712.
Brent crude futures dipped $0.182 to $110.100 per barrel, according to the ICE.