German stocks rose slightly on Thursday after a flash estimate from Markit Economics showed Germany's private sector expanded at the fastest pace in a year underpinned by strong services activity. The composite output index came at 53.6 in January, up from 50.3 in December.
The euro also turned positive against the dollar after survey data from Markit Economics showed the euro area private sector activity contracted in January, but at a slower than expected pace. The composite output index rose to a 10-month high of 48.2 in January from 47.2 in December. The services purchasing managers' index climbed to 48.3 from 47.8 in December, while the manufacturing index rose to 47.5 from 46.1.
Separately Eurozone' current account surplus increased to EUR 14.8 billion in November from EUR 8 billion in October, a report from the European Central Bank showed.
The benchmark German DAX is currently up 4 points or 0.05 percent at 7,710, while benchmark indexes in France, the U.K. and Switzerland are up between 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent.
Insurer Allianz and chemical maker BASF are posting modest gains, while Deutsche Boerse is adding a percent and Henkel is rallying 2 percent.
Commerzbank is moving down 0.6 percent after the lender said it plans to slash 4000 to 6000 jobs at the Group level until 2016, with the exact amount of the reduction to be known after talks with the employee representatives. Rival Deutsche Bank is losing 0.3 percent.
BMW Group is down 0.4 percent as it announced a long-term collaboration agreement with Toyota Motor Corp. for the joint development of a fuel-cell system, architecture and components for a sport vehicle, and other technologies.
Elsewhere, Asian markets swung between gains and losses as investors digested mixed economic data, Apple's disappointing earnings and the suspension of U.S. debt ceiling until May that enabled avert a potential default crisis. Underlying sentiment remained cautious after the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts for this year and projected a second year of contraction in the euro region.
The U.S. index futures point to a mixed start as investors await weekly jobless claims and leading economic indicators data as well as earnings from 3M, United Continental and KeyCorp due before the opening bell.
by RTT Staff Writer
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