The French market is notably lower in afternoon trading Thursday, after disappointing manufacturing data from China led to caution among investors. The Asian markets ended mixed and the U.S. index futures point to a lower open.
China's manufacturing sector shrank for a fifth consecutive month in March, as output suffered a pullback due to weakening domestic demand in the world's second-largest economy, a survey by Markit Economics revealed. The headline flash HSBC/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to a four-month low of 48.1 in March from 49.6 in February.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is declining 1.60 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is dropping 1.15 percent.
The CAC 40 index is currently losing 1.59 percent.
Schneider Electric is currently declining 4.35 percent. Peugeot and Renault are losing 4.3 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.
Alstom, Saint-Gobain, Lafarge and ArclorMittal are seeing notable losses.
Societe Generale is falling 3.4 percent. Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas are falling 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Danone is up 0.3 percent and is the only gainer on the index.
Hermes International is gaining 2.7 percent. The fashion house declared a special dividend after full year profit increased 41 percent.
Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is declining 1.52 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is losing 0.94 percent. Switzerland's SMI is retreating 0.76 percent.
In economic news, Germany's private sector expanded only at a marginal pace in March as output growth eased to a four-month low, flash data from Markit Economics showed.
Meanwhile, Eurozone private sector activity deteriorated further in March, a survey by Markit Economics revealed. The flash composite output index fell to a three-month low of 48.7 in March from 49.3 in February. Economists expected an improvement in the index reading to 49.6.
In the U.K., retail sales declined more than expected in February, the Office for National Statistics said.
Across Asia/Pacific, markets had a mixed outing. Australia's All Ordinaries gained 0.41 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.22 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.40 percent while China's Shanghai Composite Index, however, slipped 0.10 percent.
In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages ended the session mixed. The Nasdaq inched up less than a tenth of a percent, while the Dow fell 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent.
In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is sliding $1.20 to $106.07 per barrel and April gold is losing $11.5 to $1638.8 a troy ounce.
by RTT Staff Writer
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