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French Market Retreats

The French market fell on Friday, after the Chinese economy expanded at the weakest pace in nearly three years in the first quarter, fuelling concerns of a hard-landing. Technology stocks came under pressure after India's Infosys Technologies warned of a challenging year ahead.

China's gross domestic product expanded 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2012, slower than the fourth quarter's 8.9 percent increase, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday. The latest result was the weakest in 11 quarters. Economists expected a slowdown in growth to 8.4 percent.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is declining 1.28 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is losing 0.84 percent.

The CAC 40 index is currently losing 0.91 percent.

Peugeot is declining 3.1 percent and Renault is losing 1.5 percent.

Cap Gemini and STMicroelectronics are retreating about 3 percent each.

BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are falling between 2.8 percent and 2.6 percent.

Goldman Sachs raised Alstom to "Buy" from "Neutral." Shares are flat.

Loreal is gaining 2.1 percent after reporting growth in first-quarter sales. Several analysts increased their price target for the cosmetics giant.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is losing 1.00 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.58 percent. Switzerland's SMI is losing 0.46 percent.

In economic news, Germany's EU harmonized inflation slowed in March as initially estimated, final data from the Federal Statistical Office showed.

U.K. output price inflation slowed to 3.6 percent annually in March from 4.1 percent in February, the Office for National Statistics said.

Across Asia/Pacific, markets ended mostly higher as Google's forecast-beating quarterly results and news that North Korea's rocket launch has failed outweighed concerns about China's slowing economy.

Australia's All Ordinaries gained about 1 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.35 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.84 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 added around 1.2 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages closed firmly in positive territory, near their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 1.4 percent, the Nasdaq surged 1.3 percent and the S&P 500 soared 1.4 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is sliding $0.57 to $103.07 per barrel and June gold is falling $7.7 to $1672.9 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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