- European stocks opened lower on Friday, after strong gains were posted on Thursday following comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and as downbeat German factory data weighed.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.22%, France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.22%, while Germany’s DAX edged down 0.07%.

European equities strengthened on Thursday after ECB President Mario Draghi reiterated the bank’s forward guidance that rates will remain on hold at present or lower levels for an extended period.

He emphasized that "the governing council is also unanimous in its commitment to use unconventional instruments'' if necessary, to address the risk of too-prolonged period of low inflation.”

Earlier Friday, official data showed that German factory orders dropped 1.7% in May, compared to expectations for a 1.0% decline, after an increase of 3.4% in April, whose figure was revised up from a previously estimated 3.1% rise.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) and BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) plummeted 1.41% and 1.62%, while Germany''s Commerzbank (XETRA:CBKG) and Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) dropped 0.39% and 0.58%.

Among peripheral lenders, Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) and Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) tumbled 1.07% and 1.49% respectively, while Spanish banks BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) and Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) declined 0.41% and 0.61%.

Elsewhere, Alstom (PARIS:ALSO) gained 0.93% even after France''s stock market regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, ruled on Thursday that the government had unwittingly forged a shareholders'' pact with Bouygues (PARIS:BOUY) when it agreed last month to buy up to 20% of Alstom.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 slipped 0.09%, weighed by losses in the mining sector.

Shares in Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) dropped 0.40% and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) retreated 0.57%, while Vedanta Resources (LONDON:VED) declined 0.52% and Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) lost 0.83%.

Financial stocks were also mostly lower, as Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) slid 0.32% and HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) declined 0.38%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) dropped 0.60%. Barclays (LONDON:BARC) overperformed on the other hand, up 0.28%.

Meanwhile, Easyjet (LONDON:EZJ) led gains on the index, up 2.60%. The airliner made headlines on Thursday, after it was fined €60,000 for refusing to let a partially paralysed woman fly unaccompanied to her son''s funeral.

In the U.S., markets were to remain closed for the fourth of July holiday.

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