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European Markets Decline Ahead Of U.S. Data

The European markets declined in afternoon trading Friday in the absence of any major catalysts, after markets in the Asia/Pacific fell on growth concerns. The U.S. index futures are mixed ahead of the release of the home-sales data.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in an interview with German newspaper Bild-Zeitung that Greece should implement reforms to come out of the current downward spiral. To overcome the crisis, Greece needs a stable political environment, he said.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is declining 0.61 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is losing 0.47 percent.

The German DAX is losing 0.14 percent and the French CAC 40 is sliding 0.53 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.11 percent and Switzerland's SMI is falling 0.22 percent.

In Frankfurt, Allianz is losing 1.5 percent and Siemens is dropping 1.1 percent.

ThyssenKrupp and Basf are moderately lower.

Berenberg cut Wacker Neuson to "Hold" from "Buy." The stock is down 0.3 percent.

K+S is advancing 1.4 percent. Bayer is moderately higher.

Commerzbank is gaining 1.3 percent and Deutsche Bank is rising 0.24 percent.

Volkswagen and Daimler are moderately higher while BMW is in negative territory.

Several analysts raised their price targets on Lanxess. The stock is climbing 2.8 percent.

In Paris, Advertising firm Publicis Groupe is declining 1.8 percent and oil giant Total is falling 1.3 percent.

STMicroelectronics is advancing 2.6 percent. Peugeot and Renault are gaining 1.9 pecrent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole are moderately higher while Societe Generale is marginally down.

CGG Veritas is climbing 4.1 percent after the firm reportedly received a broker upgrade.

In London, Randgold Resources is declining 3.5 percent. Fresnillo is modestly down.

Rio Tinto is down 1.3 percent and Anglo American is losing 1 percent.

BT Group is climbing 4.9 percent after the firm secured a deal with the Trustee of its Pension Scheme.

Societe Generale lowered its rating on Kingfisher to "Hold" from "Buy." The stock is gaining 1.7 percent.

Marks & Spencer is rising 1.2 percent. Next is climbing 2.9 percent. Wm Morrison and Tesco are notably higher.

Phoenix Group Holdings is climbing 2.5 percent after reporting annual results.

Berenberg cut Eni to "Hold" from "Buy." The stock is down 1.3 percent.

Mobistar is gaining 2.3 percent in Brussels reportedly on a broker upgrade.

In economic news, confidence among France's businesses improved markedly in March with their production outlook improving significantly, a survey by the statistical office Insee showed. The headline synthetic index rose to 96 in March from February's revised reading of 93. Economists expected an increase to 93 from February's original reading of 92.

Meanwhile, confidence among the UK's consumers declined unexpectedly in February as they turned more pessimistic about the economy's prospects amid rising unemployment and tight austerity.

The latest survey by the Nationwide Building Society showed that the consumer confidence index fell to 44 from 47 in January. Economists expected the reading to remain unchanged from January.

Across Asia/Pacific, China's Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1.10 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.11 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.14 percent while Australia's All Ordinaries slipped 0.10 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a mixed open on Wall Street. The Commerce Department is due to release its new home sales report for February at 10 am ET. The consensus estimate calls for new homes sales of 325,000 after it declined unexpectedly to a 321,000 unit-rate in the previous month.

In the previous session, renewed worries about the global economic outlook weighed on the markets, although another batch of upbeat U.S. data helped to limit the downside. The Dow fell 0.6 percent, the Nasdaq slipped 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.7 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is climbing $0.36 to $105.71 per barrel and April gold is rising $7.5 to $1650.0 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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