European stocks decline after data, Fitch downgrade; Dax down 0.15%

A A A - European stocks declined on Monday, as market sentiment weakened after the release of disappointing data from France and Germany and after Fitch ratings agency downgraded Italy's credit rating.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 retreated 0.49%, France's CAC 40 shed 0.33%, while Germany's DAX 30 slipped 0.15%.

Official data showed that industrial production in France dropped 1.2% in January, compared to expectations for a 0.1% rise, after a 0.1% fall the previous month.

The report came after official data showed that Germany's trade surplus declined to EUR15.7 billion in January from a revised 16.9 billion the previous month.

Sentiment was also hit after Fitch lowered Italy's government bond rating to BBB+ from A- with a negative outlook.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as shares in French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale retreated 0.69% and 1.62%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank declined 1.42% and 0.41% respectively.

Peripheral lenders added to losses, with Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit plummeting 1.90% and 2.07%, while Spain's BBVA and Banco Santander tumbling 0.91% and 1.34%.

On the upside, Nordex surged 7.46% after the company reported earnings before interest and taxes of EUR14 million euros, beating analysts' estimates.

In London, FTSE 100 eased 0.01%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts lower.

Shares in HSBC Holdings dropped 0.79% and Barclays tumbled 1.55%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking plunged 1.67% and 1.74% respectively.
Meanwhile, mining stocks were mostly lower, with Rio Tinto sliding 0.31% and copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys declining 0.06% and 0.85%.

Elsewhere, Sage Group plummeted 4.31% after the stock's "equal-weight" rating reiterated at Morgan Stanley.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.10% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.15% decline, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.19% loss.

Also Monday, concerns over a possible slowdown in the world's second-largest economy weighed after data over the weekend showed that inflation in China hit a 10-month high in February, while industrial output and retail sales slowed. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.
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