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European stocks slip lower after E.Z. data; Dax down 0.12%

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Shutterstock photo - - European stocks slipped moderately lower on Wednesday, after euro zone industrial production data came out in line with expectations, while expectations for further easing measures by the European Central Bank continued to support.

During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.20%, France's CAC 40 slipped 0.15%, while Germany's DAX edged down 0.11%.

Official data showed that industrial production in the euro zone declined by 0.3% in March, meeting forecasts. Industrial production in February rose 0.2%.

European equities had strengthened on Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Germany's Bundesbank would back monetary easing measures by the European Central Bank if they were needed to keep persistently low levels of inflation from becoming entrenched in the euro zone.

The news came after the ECB indicated last week that it is "comfortable" with acting at its next meeting in June after it has a chance to review the latest economic projections.

Financial stocks turned broadly lower, as French lender Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) tumbled 1.24%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) and Commerzbank (XETRA:CBKG) slipped 0.18% and 0.45%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) and Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) declined 0.38% and 0.40% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) retreated 0.38% and 0.53%.

Elsewhere, RWE (XETRA:RWEG) tumbled 0.93%, erasing earlier gains, after the German power producer said first-quarter profit dropped 36%.

Allianz (XETRA:ALVG) remained on the upside however, advancing 0.66%, even as the Munich-based insurer said profit at its asset management unit declined by 29% due to client withdrawals, fueling a decline in total earnings.

In London, FTSE 100 edged down 0.11%, still led by ITV (LONDON:ITV), down 5.13% even as the company said total revenues rose in the first quarter and that it expects advertising revenue to climb 12% to 13% in the second quarter.

ICAP (LONDON:IAP) also remained on the downside, tumbling 1.15%, as the world's biggest broker of transactions between banks reported full-year operating profit of £295 million, missing expectations for £304.5 million.

In the mining sector, stocks were mixed as Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) gained 0.83% and Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) climbed 0.63%, while Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) and Vedanta Resources (LONDON:VED) plummeted 1.28% and 1.52% respectively.

Earlier Wednesday, Bhp Billiton said it was considering selling all or part of its Australian nickel unit, in the face of rising prices.

Meanwhile, financial stocks turned mostly higher, with the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) inching up 0.06% and Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) adding 0.13%, while HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) jumped 1.01%. Barclays (LONDON:BARC) underperformed as shares retreated 0.94%.

Also in the U.K., data showed that the unemployment rate fell to a more than five-year low of 6.8% in the three months to March but average earnings slowed.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow 30futures pointed to a 0.01% uptick, S&P 500futures signaled a 0.03% loss, while the Nasdaq 100futures indicated a 0.01% dip.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on producer price inflation. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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