Investing.com - European stocks were mixed to lower in choppy trade on Thursday, as markets eyed the release of highly anticipated U.S. data later in the trading session, while disappointing economic reports out of China still weighed on market sentiment.
During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 dipped 0.02%, France’s CAC 40 eased 0.02%, while Germany’s DAX 30 added 0.16%.
Investors remained cautious after data showed that Chinese industrial production rose 8.6% in the first two months of 2014, missing market expectations for an increase of 9.5%, while Chinese retail sales rose by a smaller-than-forecast 11.8% in the same period.
The data added to concerns over the strength of the world’s second-largest economy.
Meanhile, European equities remained under pressure after the European Central Bank''s decision last week to refrain from implementing policy measures to shore up growth in the euro area, despite forecasting low inflation for some years to come.
Speaking Wednesday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said interest rates in the euro zone are too low from a German point of view. He also said he doesn’t expect deflation to materialize in the euro zone.
Financial stocks were mixed, as BNP Paribas added 0.21% and Societe Generale declined 0.43% in France, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank fell 0.29%.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit gained 0.40% and 0.66% respectively, while Spanish banks BBVA edged down 0.10%.
Elsewhere, Bouygues added 0.12%, erasing earlier losses, after the company raised the cash component of its offer for Vivendi''s French phone unit SFR to €11.3 billion to top a competing bid from cable billionaire Patrick Drahi.
Meanwhile, Adecco SA plunged 6.49% after its largest investor said it will sell about 16% in the provider of temporary workers.
In London, FTSE 100 slipped 0.26%, still led by Morrison, down 7.66%, after the U.K. grocer said profit will plunge this year and pledged to sell £1 billion of property.
Meanwhile, financial stocks remained mixed. The Royal Bank of Scotland dropped 0.49% and Lloyds Banking declined 0.69%, while HSBC Holdings gained 0.72% and Barclays surged 2.72%.
In the mining sector, stocks were mostly higher as Glencore Xstrata inched up 0.04% and BHP Billiton edged up 0.14%, while Rio Tinto climbed 0.50%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.12% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.16% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.21% increase.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on retail sales and import prices, in addition to the weekly government report on initial jobless claims.