Europe close: Markets react to mixed economic data|
European equities finished mixed Thursday as trade surplus for the Eurozone hit its highest level in March since the bloc was formed in 1999.
The figures were driven by a continued decline in imports, reflecting weak demand in the bloc.
Declining prices across the 17-nation area also affected the results. Statistics agency Eurostat said consumers paid less for goods and services in April for the fourth straight month, the longest period since 2009.
While exports rose in March compared with February, results were flat against a year earlier.
The Eurozone economy contracted by 0.2% in the three months to March as shrinking domestic demand offset the jump in trade.
Eurostat said exports of goods from the Eurozone exceeded imports by €22.9bn in March, compared with €6.9bn the previous year.
Weaker than expected US data
The President of the Federal Reserve bank of Philadelphia Charles Plosser, has argued that quantitative easing should begin to be tapered this year.
His comments came as US economic data came in weaker than expected.
US housing starts dropped to an annualised rate of 853,000 in April, compared to a consensus of 980,000.
Housing permits, which are considered a good leading indicator for the sector, on the other hand grew by 14.3% month-on-month, to reach 1.017m, beating the 940,000 forecasts.
Initial weekly unemployment claims rose by 32,000 to 360,000 but missed economists’ estimates of 330,000.
Core consumer prices increased at 1.7% year-on-year in April, below the expected 1.8% riset The headline rate for consumer prices rose at a 1.1% year-on-year clip in April, below the 1.3% anticipated by analysts.
The Federal Reserve bank of Philadelphia's regional manufacturing gauge fell to a level of -5.2 in May, from 1.3 in the month before, instead of rising to 2.5 as economists had expected.
Lloyds, Zurich, TalkTalk
Lloyds Banking Group’s shares advanced as company’s Chief Executive Officer said the bank will return to profitability in 2013.
Zurich Insurance Group dropped after the Swiss insurer reported earnings that missed estimates.
Vivendi retreated after Activision Blizzard was said to have ditched a plan to buy back shares held by its French parent following a disagreement on price.
TalkTalk Telecom Group rose after the company posted full-year sales in line with estimates and forecast revenue growth of at least 2.0% for the next financial year.
Single currency little changed
The euro/dollar climbed 0.06% to the 1.2895 mark.
Front month Brent crude futures rose by $0.058 to $103.740 per barrel on the ICE.