- European stocks slipped lower on Friday, despite a better outlook for growth in the euro zone, as downbeat economic reports from the U.S. continued to weigh on equity markets.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 declined 0.48%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.20%, while Germany’s DAX 30 slipped 0.13%.

On Thursday, a larger than expected increase in euro zone private sector activity this month indicated that the recovery in the euro area is strengthening.

Markit said the euro zone’s composite output index rose to a 31-month high of 53.2 in January, up from a final reading of 52.1 in December, as growth picked up in Germany and the rate of decline eased in France.

But investors remained cautious after data on Thursday showed that initial jobless claims rose in line with expectations last week, but the number of continuing jobless claims remained above the three million mark for the second successive week.

In addition, U.S. factory output fell to a three-month low in January, due to disruption from unseasonable cold weather.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale slipped 0.02% and 0.45%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank inched up 0.01%.

Among peripheral lenders, Spanish banks Banco Santander and BBVA plummeted 1.69% and 3.20% respectively, while Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit declined 0.48% and 1.01%.

Elsewhere, Novartis shares retreated 0.81% after the Swiss pharmaceutical company failed to win backing from a European advisory panel for its Serelaxin treatment for acute heart failure.

On the upside, Celesio surged 5.95% as McKesson Corp. agreed to buy majority owner Franz Haniel & Cie.’s entire holding in the company for EUR23.50 a share.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 eased 0.08%, weighed by losses in mining stocks.

Shares in Rio Tinto dropped 0.48% and BHP Billiton lost 0.77%, while rivals Glencore Xstrata and Polymetal retreated 0.79% and 1.19% respectively.

In the financial sector, stocks were mixed. Lloyds Banking and HSBC Holdings slid 0.28% and 0.58%, while Barclays edged up 0.13% and the Royal Bank of Scotland gained 0.75%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.28% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.20% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.23% slide.

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