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Europe shares close mixed after PMI data

European equities closed mixed on Thursday as investors reacted to worse-than-expected data for the euro zone, while good earnings from companies including Johnson Matthey offset investor concerns.

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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed down 0.1 percent at 1,296.49 points, as business activity figures in the euro zone fell unexpectedly in November, prompting concerns that the recovery was losing steam.

The flash composite euro zone purchasing manager's index (PMI) fell to 51.5 in November, down from 51.9 in October, data from economic analysts Markit showed on Tuesday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a figure of 52.0.

The French flash composite PMI - measuring the services and manufacturing industries - missed expectations and showed the two sectors had actually fallen back into a contraction.

Data for Germany fared slightly better, with the composite number climbing to 54.3 from last month's 53.2. Both manufacturing and services components of the figure managed to beat expectations.

(Read More: Euro zone recovery losing steam as PMIs disappoint)

However, there were some bright spots, with Johnson Matthey, the world's largest maker of catalysts to control car emissions, closed higher by around 3.74 percent after unveiling a 13 percent rise in first-half profit, aided by increased global production of cars and trucks.

Fed minutes weigh

The macroeconomic picture of Fed 'tapering' also continued to set the tone for investors across the globe. Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's October meeting, which were released on Wednesday, showed that U.S. Federal Reserve officials felt they could decide to start scaling back the central bank's massive asset-purchase program at one of its next few meetings.

The minutes came just a day after Fed chief Ben Bernanke suggested the central bank would keep its ultra-easy monetary policy in place for as long as needed.

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 in recovery mode after its longest-running loss streak in eight weeks, after a data showing a decline in the number of Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

Meanwhile, officials in Europe look to be moving in the other direction with policy. The euro is being pressured after a report suggested the European Central Bank could implement further monetary easing. A report on Wednesday from Bloomberg News cited two unnamed sources as saying the central bank was considering lowering its deposit rate, one of its two main lending rates, to below zero.

In stocks news, shares of energy operator National Grid closed higher by roughly 0.71 percent despite reporting weaker performance from its U.S. market, which managed to drag down the group's half-year profits.

Investec posted a slight decline of 0.77 percent in its first-half earnings; shares of the asset management firm closed down around 0.8 percent.

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