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European Markets Decline On China Data

The European markets declined 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 0.97 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is losing 0.65 percent.

The German DAX is losing 0.68 percent and the French CAC 40 is falling 0.96 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is dropping 0.44 percent and Switzerland's SMI is sliding 0.35 percent.

In Frankfurt, Commerzbank is declining 3 percent and Deutsche Bank is losing 0.8 percent.

SAP is down 1.4 percent. Infineon Technologies is losing 1.3 percent.

Daimler is losing about 2 percent. Volkswagen and BMW are moderately lower.

UBS removed Metro from Least Preferred List. The stock is down 0.9 percent.

Fraport is falling 0.2 percent after Barclays cut the stock to "Equalweight" from "Overweight."

JPMorgan reduced its rating on Stada to "Neutral" from "Overweight." The shares are falling 3.2 percent.

JPMorgan raised Carl Zeiss Meditec to "Overweight" from "Neutral." Shares are flat.

Exane BNP raised Praktiker to "Neutral" from "Underperform." The stock is up 2.7 percent.

Construction and machinery manufacturer Bauer reported a decline in profit for 2011. The stock is moderately up.

In Paris, 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.

In London, Barclays is losing 1.1 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland is falling about 2 percent.

Sage Group is falling 2.2 percent after the firm reportedly received a broker downgrade. Vodafone is moderately falling.

Daisy Group is falling 5.9 percent after issuing a trading update.

Evraz is gaining 2.1 percent. Polymetal International is notably higher.

Xstrata and Glencore are in positive territory. The companies said they are currently engaged in constructive discussions with the regulatory authorities, which require anti-trust filings to be submitted for their proposed merger.

Nokia is up 2.3 percent in Helsinki. Barclays cut the stock to "Equalweight" from "Overweight."

Philips was raised to "Buy" from "Hold" at Berenberg. The stock is up 0.5 pecent in Amsterdam.

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 $0.38 to $103.26 per barrel and June gold is falling $7.7 to $1672.9 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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