European stocks were almost unchanged on Tuesday, after positive German retail sales data as investors remained cautious ahead of the minutes of the Federal Reserve''s latest policy meeting this week.
During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 eased up 0.02%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.15%, while Germany’s DAX 30 inched 0.01% higher.
Official data showed that German retail sales rose 1.5% in November, beating expectations for a 0.6% increase, after a 0.8% fall the previous month.
Investors were eyeing Wednesday’s minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting and Friday’s U.S. jobs report for December for further indications on the possible timing of reductions in Fed stimulus.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale rose 0.34% and 0.13%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank edged up 0.15%.
Among peripheral lenders, Spanish banks Banco Santander and BBVA gained 0.25% and 0.48% respectively, while Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo advanced 0.63%.
Elsewhere, AP Moller-Maersk climbed 0.56% after the owner of the world’s largest container-shipping company said it plans to sell a stake in its supermarket business and book a gain of USD2.56 billion.
On the downside, Swedish Match plunged 5.19% after Citigroup advised investors to sell the shares.
In London, FTSE 100 inched up 0.02%, led by gains in Legal & General, up 2.09%, still supported by recent news the insurance company, which has already invested around GBP1 billion in student accommodation, is planning to build retirement homes.
Meanwhile, financial stocks were mixed, as HSBC Holdings climbed 0.42% and Lloyds Banking jumped 1.15%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays lost 0.15% and 0.31% respectively.
In the mining sector, stocks were broadly lower. Shares in Glencore Xstrata retreated 0.57% and BHP Billiton declined 0.47%, while Vedanta Resources and Rio Tinto tumbled 1.35% and 1.65%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.14% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.15% increase, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.15% gain.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish a report on the trade balance.