The French market fell in afternoon trading on Thursday, amid continuing worries about Europe. Sentiment was also impacted by a weak economic report from China, ahead of the central bank decision from the U.K.
Eurozone's economic outlook continues to be subject to downside risks, the European Central Bank said in its monthly bulletin. It expects economic activity to recover gradually over the course of the year.
The ECB said downside risks emanate from intensification of tensions in euro area debt markets and their potential spillover to the euro area real economy, as well as to further increases in commodity prices.
Meanwhile, the European Financial Stability Facility board agreed to release 5.2 billion euros in emergency assistance to Greece despite opposition from some member states. The EFSF will release 4.2 billion euros to Greece as agreed earlier under a 130 billion euros bailout package in March. The remaining 1 billion euros will be released by June, after considering the financial requirements of Athens, reports said.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is losing 0.23 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is falling 0.37 percent.
The CAC 40 index is currently declining 0.84 percent.
Sanofi is declining 4.3 percent, followed by Lafarge, which is down 2.7 percent. EADS is losing 2.4 percent.
BNP Paribas is modestly lower while Credit Agricole and Societe Generale are gaining.
Renault is losing 1.6 percent while Peugeot is climbing 4.3 percent following a broker upgrade.
Axa is gaining 2 percent.
Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is declining 0.10 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.43 percent. Switzerland's SMI is dropping 0.46 percent.
In economic news, U.K. industrial production declined in March from a month ago as expected by economists, while manufacturing output grew more than expected, data from the National Statistics Office revealed.
At 7.00 am ET, the Bank of England is set to announce its interest rate decision. The nine member Monetary Policy Committee is expected to leave the size of the quantitative easing unchanged at GBP 325 billion as inflation remains sticky. The interest rate is also seen unchanged at a historic low of 0.50 percent.
Data from the General Administration of Customs showed that China's exports grew 4.9 percent year-on-year in April, slower than forecast for 9.1 percent growth and weaker than March's 8.9 percent expansion.
Markets in Asia/Pacific were mixed following the data from China. Australia's All Ordinaries added 0.50 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.07 percent. However, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.51 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
In the U.S., futures point to a mixed open on Wall Street. In the previous session, stocks ended off their day's lows, as news that Greece would receive its latest debt bailout payment helped pare back some earlier losses. The Dow ended down 0.8 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.7 percent.
In the commodity space, crude for June delivery is losing $0.52 to $96.29 per barrel and June gold is falling $3.5 to $1590.7 a troy ounce.
by RTT Staff Writer
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