- US jobless claims rise
- US retail sales fall
- Yellen testimony postponed due to weather
- Italy's Renzi calls for new government
FTSE 100: -0.21%
CAC 40: 0.17%
FTSE MIB: -0.17%
IBEX 35: 0.16%
Stoxx 600: -0.16%
European stocks were mixed as US reports showed a rise in jobless claims and fall in retail sales.
The Labor Department said today US jobless claims jumped 8,000 to 339,000 in the week ended February 8th from 331,000 in the prior period, surprising analysts who had called for a drop to 330,000.
The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring the labour market after it decided to scale back the pace of monthly bond purchases for the second time last month.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen confessed recovery of employment in the world's biggest economy has far to go during her first testimony to the House on Tuesday.
However, she said the central bank was likely to continue tapering monetary stimulus after each policy meeting until ending it all together later this year.
Yellen, who took over from Ben Bernanke earlier this month, was due to present another testimony before the Senate today but it was postponed due to winter storms.
In other US news, retail sales declined in January by 0.4% following a revised 0.1% fall in December, according to the Commerce Department today. Economists had predicted no change.
Italy's Renzi calls for new government
Italy's centre-left party leader Matteo Renzi has called for a new government to take power amid pressure on Prime Minister Enrico Letta to step down.
In a speech to the Democratic party on Thursday, Renzi, a popular leader to take over the helm in polls, said the country needs to move into "a new phase with a new government".
His remarks effectively show he is pulling his support for Letta, who on Wednesday tried to resist a push for a leadership change when he met with Renzi to discuss the future of the government.
Elsewhere in the euro-area, the European Central Bank (ECB) released its Monthly Bulletin this morning which reiterated the statements released last week at the policy meeting.
On that occasion the ECB decided to keep its interest rates unchanged and policy on hold despite mounting pressure to take greater measures to tackle inflation.
The monthly report confirmed the ECB's expectation of a prolonged period of low inflation, to be followed by a gradual upward movement towards inflation rates below, but close to, 2% later on.
In Germany, consumer prices, calculated using a harmonised European Union method, rose 1.2% in January, matching the previous month's increase and the consensus forecast.
BNP Paribas, Rolls-Royce
BNP Paribas declined after France's largest bank unexpectedly reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit.
Rolls-Royce edged lower after estimating 2014 revenue and profit would remain flat, reverting an earlier profit for a rise.
Nestle tumbled after reporting saying it expects another challenging year as food companies face slowing demand in emerging markets and in Europe.
Renault was higher as the carmarker said full-year operating profit increased as it delivered cost savings.
Lloyds Banking Group dropped as the lender reported its fourth consecutive annual loss.
Commerzbank advanced as Germany's second-largest bank posted net income that exceeded analysts' projection.
The euro rose 0.52% to $1.3664.
Brent crude futures fell $0.249 to $108.520 per barrel, according to the ICE.