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European Equity Benchmarks Close Mixed; Retailers, Food Processors, Hospitality Stocks Move Lower

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Major European stock market indexes were mixed Wednesday, as food processors, retailers and hospitality companies weighed down the markets.

In economic news, the UK's Office for National Statistics ( ONS ) reported that the number of unemployed people in the UK increased by 24,000 to 1.45 million in the three months to January, compared with the same period the previous year. The increase was insufficient to have a material impact on the unemployment rate, which stayed at 4.3% in the three months to January, and unchanged from the previous quarter. The ONS also said that unemployment was at a record low for 25- to 34-year-old men.

The ONS also reported that public sector net borrowing (excluding public sector banks) decreased by £2.5 billion to £41.4 billion in the current financial year-to-date (April 2017 to February 2018), compared with the same period in the previous financial year. That was the lowest year-to-date net borrowing figure since the financial year ending February 2008.

In France, the price of crude oil in euros decreased 6.6% in February after rising 4.1% in January, according to the Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). The prices in euros of all other imported commodities slightly increased (+0.3% after +0.2%). The prices of raw food materials recovered (+1.0% after -2.0%) while the prices of industrial raw materials retreated (-0.4% after +2.3%).

INSEE also reported that producer costs for construction accelerated 1.0% in Q4 2017 after rising 0.3% in the two previous quarters.

And in Germany, non-university research institutions spent approximately EUR12.7 billion on research and development in Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

In equities, home improvement retailer Kingfisher led the FTSE lower in London, tumbling 10.7%, followed by communications group WPP, and food processing company Associated British Foods, which lost 3.2% each. Hospitality company Whitbread, consumer goods company British American Tobacco, and retailer Next fell 3%, 2.9%, and 2.6% respectively, while airline EasyJet was off 2.4%.

In Frankfurt, footwear and apparel company Adidas, and industrial group ThyssenKrupp helped nudge the DAX into positive territory, rising 1.8% and 1.7% respectively, followed by industrial gasses company Linde, which climbed 1.4%. Meanwhile Deutsche Bank and airline operator Deutsche Lufthansa held the markets from rising higher, falling 5.2% and 2.7% respectively.

In Paris, construction materials supplier Cie de Saint-Gobain and aerospace and defense firm Safran led the CAC lower, falling 1.8% and 1.6% respectively. Hotel operator Accor and food processing company Danone were off 1.5% and 1.4%, while automaker Renault and pharmaceutical firm Sanofi dropped 1.3% and 1.2%.

The FTSE fell 0.32%, the DAX edged 0.01% higher, and the CAC-40 lost 0.24%.

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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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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