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European stocks lower as focus shifts to U.S. GDP; Dax slumps 0.3%

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Shutterstock photo - - European stock market held on to losses on Thursday, as market players looked ahead to highly-anticipated data on fourth quarter U.S. economic growth and weekly jobless claims.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 inched down 0.35%, France's CAC 40 shed 0.35%, while Germany's DAX 30 dipped 0.3%.

Elsewhere, Spain's IBEX 35 eased down 0.15% and Italy's FTSE MIB index was flat.

European equities opened lower after the Federal Reserve announced plans to further taper stimulus and following the release of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data.

The Fed said Wednesday that it would reduce its monthly bond buying program by USD10 billion to a total of USD65 billion a month, in a widely anticipated decision.

Meanwhile, China's final HSBC Purchasing Managers Index released earlier fell to a six-month low of 49.5 in January from a preliminary reading of 49.6 and down from 50.5 in December.

Market players continued to monitor liquidity conditions in emerging markets, such as Turkey and South Africa. Emerging markets economies have been hard hit in recent sessions by worries over the impact of cuts in Fed stimulus and concerns over a possible slowdown in China.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale dropped 1.4% and 1.7%, while Germany's Commerzbank slumped 2.3%.

Market players shrugged off data showing that the number of unemployed people in Germany fell by 28,000 in December, outstripping expectations for a decline of 5,000. The German unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.8%.

A separate report showed that Spain's recovery picked up in the fourth quarter, with gross domestic product expanding by 0.3%, up from 0.1% in the three months to September.

In Italy, the country saw borrowing costs fall to the lowest levels on record at an auction of five-and-ten-year government bonds earlier in the day.

Elsewhere, in London, the FTSE 100 dipped 0.3% as earnings were in the spotlight.

Diageo saw shares drop 5.5% after the drinks maker said demand had been volatile in emerging markets in the first half of the year.

On the upside, Royal Dutch Shell added 2.9%, while satellite broadcaster BSkyB jumped 3% after both companies reported well-received earnings reports.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.45% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.45% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a rise of 0.8%.

Nasdaq futures were boosted after Facebook reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings after Wednesday's closing bell. The stock was up 10% in pre-market trade.

The U.S. is to publish preliminary data on fourth quarter economic growth. The nation is also to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims and data on pending home sales. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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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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