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European Markets Trade Lower

The European markets are lower in afternoon trading Thursday, amid continuing worries about Europe. Sentiment in the region was impacted by some corporate news as well as a weak economic report from China.

The Bank of England policymakers retained the size of quantitative easing and the record low interest rate unchanged as expected by economists. At the end of the two-day rate setting meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee voted to maintain the asset purchase programme at 325 billion pounds.

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 0.27 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is falling 0.29 percent.

The German DAX is sliding 0.17 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is losing 0.58 percent. The French CAC 40 is falling 1.04 percent while Switzerland's SMI is dropping 0.49 percent.

Deutsche Post is declining the most by falling 5.3 percent. Insurer Allianz is dropping 4.8 percent. K+S is losing 4.3 percent.

RWE is declining about 1.5 percent. The utility's first-quarter profit fell nearly 28 percent, weighed down by declining margins in electricity generation and weakness at its gas midstream business.

Commerzbank is down 1.3 percent while Deutsche Bank is modestly higher. Aareal Bank, which reported financial results, is up 1 percent.

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler are in negative territory.

SMA Solar is declining 5.8 percent after reporting first-quarter results. Centrotherm Photovoltics is losing 2.4 percent.

Evotec is losing 3.5 percent after reporting a wider loss for the first quarter.

ProSiebenSat.1 Media is falling 2.9 percent.

Deutsche Telekom is adding 1.6 percent. The company confirmed its forecast for the year after reporting lower first-quarter profit.

Solarworld is surging 7.7 percent. The company reported quarterly results today.

Bilfinger Berger is up 2 percent.

Wincor Nixdorf is climbing 6 percent. Berenberg raised the stock to "Buy" from "Hold."

In Paris, BNP Paribas is modestly lower while Credit Agricole and Societe Generale are gaining.

Renault is losing 1.6 percent. Peugeot is climbing 4.3 percent after UBS raised the stock to "Buy" from "Neutral."

BT Group is falling 1.3 percent in London. The company posted a revenue drop of 4 percent for the first quarter.

Reckiit Benckiser is declining 4.2 percent. Diageo is losing about 2 percent and Experian is dropping 2.5 percent.

Legal & General is up 1 percent. The insurer appointed Nigel Wilson as Group Chief Executive, succeeding Tim Breedon.

Barratt Developments is climbing 6.6 percent.

Repsol is climbing nearly 7 percent in Madrid after reporting higher first-quarter results.

KBC is surging 6.8 percent in Brussels. The bank reported quarterly results.

Danske Bank is up 2.3 percent in Copenhagen. The company reported higher profit for the first quarter.

Bankia is up 3.6 percent in Madrid. Mediobanca is falling 3.4 percent in Milan.

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.

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 $0.36 to $96.45 per barrel and June gold is falling $3.5 to $1590.7 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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