(RTTNews) - European stocks were flat to slightly lower on Thursday after Eurostat data showed the euro zone economy contracted 3.8 percent in the first quarter, marking the worst decline since records were kept in 1995.
The region's unemployment rate edged up to 7.4 percent in March while inflation fell to 0.4 percent in April from 0.7 percent in March.
Investors await the interest rate announcement from the European Central Bank later today for further direction.
There are some expectations that euro zone policymakers will expand debt purchases to include junk bonds as part of a bond-buying stimulus scheme.
Elsewhere, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attend his first press conference since his return to work.
The pan European Stoxx 600 dropped 0.2 percent to 346.33 after rising 1.8 percent on Wednesday.
The German DAX and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 were also down about 0.2 percent, while France's CAC 40 index was up 0.1 percent.
Aircraft engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines rallied 4 percent. The company said it was too early to issue a new outlook to replace the guidance it withdrew in March.
Technology company Aixtron fell 4.6 percent after posting a loss in the first quarter and confirming full-year guidance.
Chemical company BASF declined over 2 percent after saying it won't be able to meet its full-year goals.
Safran shares jumped 3 percent. Chief Executive Philippe Petitcolin told reporters the aerospace supplier remained on "solid" foundations with 3.2 billion euros of cash and cash equivalents on March 31.
Plane maker Airbus soared 5 percent on reports that it was in talks with the French state regarding possible aid.
Utility Suez gained 2.3 percent. Declines in volumes have largely stopped by end of April and governments appear determined to drive the progressive exit from containment from May onward, the company said.
Consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser surged 4.6 percent after it achieved record sales growth in the first quarter and predicted a stronger than expected performance in 2020.
G4S Plc shares rallied 4 percent after the security services company reported a rise in first-quarter revenue.
Hikma Pharma climbed 4.6 percent. The company stuck with its full-year revenue forecast for its generic drug business.
Royal Dutch Shell lost 5 percent after cutting its dividend for the first time in 80 years and suspending the next tranche of its stock buyback program.
Sainsbury declined 2.4 percent. The supermarket chain has warned of a coronavirus hit of £500million over the coming year.
Lloyds Banking tumbled 3.5 percent after its first-quarter profit nosedived 95 percent.
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