European Equities Close Mixed after Eurozone Retail Sales Fall, UK Lowers Economic Growth Forecast

European main equities closed mixed on Thursday after retail sales in the euro area fell in January and the Bank of England lowered its growth forecast for the UK.

The Markit Eurozone Retail Purchasing Managers' Index, which tracks month-on-month changes in like-for-like retail sales in the bloc's biggest three economies, remained below the neutral 50 level in January, registering a reading of 48.9.

This indicated a modest rate of decline that was little changed from that recorded in December, when the index registered a reading of 49.0. It also represented the third consecutive monthly decline. Each of the three largest Eurozone economies saw downturns in sales, with ltaly recording the worst performance overall.

Phil Smith, an economist at Markit, said: "Sales were higher in January than the situation one year ago, although on a monthly basis they have slipped steadily since November."

In other macro-economic news, the Bank of England lowered its economic growth forecast. The central bank cut its prediction for gross domestic product growth in 2016 to 2.2% from 2.5% in November. The bank also maintained its interest rate at 0.5%.

In equities, commodities stocks were the biggest gainers on the FTSE 100 Index, with Anglo American, Glencore, Antofagasta, BHP Billiton jumping 20%, 16%, 14.6%, and 10.8%, respectively. Peers Rio Tinto and Fresnillo also rose 10.3% and 8.6%, respectively.

On Frankfurt's DAX, car maker Daimler led decliners, sliding 3.2%, followed by kidney dialysis firm Fresenius Medical Care dropping 3.1% and health care firm Fresenius down 2.4%. Semiconductor company Infineon Technologies also closed 2.4% lower.

And, on the CAC-40, steelmaker ArcelorMittal jumped 10.7%, leading gainers. Engineering and construction firm Technip followed with a 5% gain. Energy distribution and management firm Schneider Electric was up 3.8% and French bank BNP Paribas ended 3.6% higher.

The FTSE 100 closed 1.06% higher, the DAX slid by 0.44% and the CAC-40 inched 0.04% higher.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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