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European stocks steady in cautious trade; Dax up 0.03%

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Shutterstock photo - - European stocks were steady on Friday, as Thursday's downbeat euro zone data continued to weigh, while mounting expectations for further easing measures by the European Central Bank still lent some support.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 eased 0.06%, France's CAC 40 edged 0.04% higher, while Germany's DAX inched up 0.03%.

Data on Thursday showed that the euro zone's gross domestic product grew just 0.2% in the first quarter, compared to expectations for growth of 0.4%. On a year-over-year basis the bloc's economy expanded 0.9%, falling short of expectations for growth of 1.1%.

A separate report showed that the bloc's annual rate of inflation was unchanged at 0.7% in April, in line with forecasts, but still well below the ECB's target of close to but just under 2%.

Also Thursday, ECB Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio said the central bank was open to more monetary easing and was determined to act swiftly if required.

Meanwhile, investors continued to monitor developments in Ukraine as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia it faced broader economic and industrial sanctions if it meddled in Ukraine's presidential elections on May 25.

Financial stocks were mixed lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) slipped 0.12% and 0.17%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) declined 0.87%.

Among peripheral lenders, Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) slid 0.30% and Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) rose 0.23% in Italy, while BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) added 0.19% and Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) edged down 0.13% in Spain.

Elsewhere, Bouygues (PARIS:BOUY) surged 4.23% following news Orange (PARIS:ORAN), up 1.14%, has considered buying Bouygues Telecom.

Credit Suisse Group (SIX:CSGN) retreated 0.88% amid reports the Swiss bank will soon reach an agreement with the U.S. to resolve investigations into whether it helped Americans evade taxes.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 edged up 0.07%, as losses in the mining sector capped gains.

Shares in Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) declined 0.61% and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) tumbled 1.06%, while Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) and Fresnillo (LONDON:FRES) plunged 1.75% and 2.06%. Vedanta Resources (LONDON:VED) overperformed however, leading gains on the index with shares rallying 2.51%.

In the financial sector, stocks were also mostly lower. HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) edged down 0.10% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) dropped 0.47%, while Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) slid 0.75%. Barclays (LONDON:BARC) edged up 0.12% on the other hand.

Meanwhile, Intertek Group (LONDON:ITRK) was the worst performer on the index, down 3.53%, after the product tester said the variable market conditions in the second half of 2013 continued into the first four months of 2014, resulting in good growth in key product-related business lines but weaker than anticipated activity in the energy infrastructure market.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow 30futures pointed to a 0.06% loss, S&P 500futures signaled a 0.04% dip, while the Nasdaq 100futures indicated a 0.06% slip.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on building permits and housing starts, as well as a preliminary reading on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan. 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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