Retail sales and mortgage approvals data from the U.K. are the highlights on Friday with no major reports due from the rest of Europe. On the credit ratings front, Standard & Poor's is set to announce the rating review of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), France, Russia and Cyprus on Friday.
Overall inflation for the Tokyo region, considered a leading indicator for the nationwide trend, spiked 2.9 percent on year in April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday. That was slightly below expectations for 3.0 percent but up sharply from 1.3 percent in March - perhaps finally signaling an end to the deflation that has hampered the nation for more than 15 years, although the recently implemented consumption tax hike also is likely a factor.
The dollar was narrowly mixed Thursday, holding in a tight range versus the euro as traders assessed comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
The dollar was steady at $1.38 versus the euro, little changed at Y102.25 versus the yen, and holding at $1.68 versus the sterling.
After reporting a bigger than expected increase in new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods in the previous month, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday that once again showed stronger than expected durable goods orders growth in the month of March. The report said durable goods orders surged up by 2.6 percent in March after jumping by a revised 2.1 percent in February.
First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by more than expected in the week ended April 19th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, with initial jobless claims climbing further off their recent lows. The report said initial jobless claims rose to 329,000, an increase of 24,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 305,000.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Thursday that any worsening of the euro area inflation outlook may prompt the bank to adopt a broad-based asset buying scheme. "Unlike the other contingencies, the objective here would not be to defend the current stance, but rather to increase meaningfully the degree of monetary accommodation," Draghi said in a speech in Amsterdam.
Sentiment among German firms improved unexpectedly in April as businesses were more confident about their future activities, a closely watched survey showed Thursday. Even the risks emanating from the Ukraine crisis left business morale untouched. Business confidence rose to 111.2 in April from 110.7 in March, a survey conducted by the Munich-based Ifo Institute, among 7,000 firms, revealed.
Ifo business confidence from Germany is due on Thursday, headlining a light day for the European economic news.
South Korea's gross domestic product expanded 0.9 percent on quarter in the first quarter of 2014, the Bank of Korea said in Thursday's advance estimate.
That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.8 percent, and it was unchanged from the previous quarter.
Real gross domestic income increased by 0.7...
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Thursday raised its Official Cash Rate by 25 basis points, to 3.00 percent from 2.75 percent. The decision was in line with expectations, and it marks the second straight month with a rate hike following 24 straight meetings in which the rate was not changed. New Zealand's economic expansion has considerable momentum, with GDP estimated to have grown by 3.5 percent in the year to March.
New home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly showed a substantial decrease in the month of March, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, with sales falling to their lowest level in eight months. The report said new home sales plunged 14.5 percent to an annual rate of 384,000 in March from the revised February rate of 449,000.
Eurozone private sector started the second quarter on a solid footing with activity growth the fastest in nearly three years in April, but firms continued to slash prices, fueling fears that deflationary pressures are intensifying. The purchasing managers survey's composite output index rose to 54.0 in April from 53.1 in March, data from Markit Economics showed Wednesday.
Policymakers of the Bank of England unanimously decided to maintain the key bank rate at a historic low of 0.50 percent and monetary stimulus at GBP 375 billion, the minutes showed Wednesday. Members said economic recovery is building momentum, but they had a range of opinions about the amount of slack remaining within the economy and medium-term inflation outlook.
U.K. Chancellor George Osborne achieved his budget deficit target for 2013/14 as buoyant economic growth boosted tax receipts. Data from the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday showed that net borrowing totaled GBP 107.7 billion in the fiscal year ended March 2014, the lowest since the 2008/2009 financial crisis.
Thailand's central bank left its key interest rate unchanged on Wednesday, after trimming it in the previous month amid the lingering political impasse. The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Thailand voted 6-1 to leave the main policy rate unchanged at 2 percent, which is the lowest level since December 2010. The decision was in line with economists' expectations.