European stocks remain lower on weak data; Dax down 0.79%

Shutterstock photo - European stocks remained lower on Thursday, after the release of disappointing economic reports from the euro zone and as concerns over the handling of the financial situation in Cyprus continued to weigh.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 retreated 0.75%, France's CAC 40 tumbled 1.11%, while Germany's DAX 30 slid 0.79%.

Sentiment was hit after data showed the euro zone manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to a seasonally adjusted 46.6 in March, a three-month low, from 47.9 in February, compared to expectations for a reading of 48.2.

The euro zone services PMI fell to a five-month low of 46.5 from 47.9 in March.

Germany's manufacturing PMI fell to 48.9 in March from 50.3 the previous month and the country's services sector expanded at the slowest rate in four months.

The French manufacturing PMI came in at 43.9 in March, unchanged from February's reading, while service sector activity in France fell to a 49-month low of 41.9.

Markets were also jittery as negotiations aimed at finding an alternative solution on a bailout deal for Cyprus continued after the parliament rejected a controversial bank deposit tax in a vote on Tuesday.

Financial stocks were mixed. In France, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas slipped 0.09% and 0.11%, while in Germany, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank rallied 1.36% and 1.16%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italian banks Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo gained 0.82% and 1.16%, while Spain's BBVA and Banco Santander declined 0.27% and 1.40% respectively.

Elsewhere, Hermes International advanced 0.88% after the French luxury goods manufacturer reported operating profit for 2012 that exceeded analysts' estimates.

In London, FTSE 100 declined 0.78%, even as data showed that U.K. retail sales rose far more-than-expected in February, marking the strongest increase since March 2012.

Mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton remained lower, sliding 0.67% and 1.19% respectively, while copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys tumbled 0.98% and 0.82%.

Oil and gas major Anglo American added to losses, plummeting 1.68%, while rival BP shed 0.66%.

Meanwhile, financial stocks turned broadly lower. Shares in Lloyds Banking slumped 0.75% and the Royal Bank of Scotland declined 0.85%, while HSBC Holdings dropped 0.93%. Barclays overperformed on the other hand, adding 0.13%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a flat open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.09% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.01% dip, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.10% fall.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the weekly government report on initial jobless claims, as well as industry data on existing home sales and official data on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia. - 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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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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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