Europe Markets

Europe stocks close lower after mixed euro zone data; Fiat soars

European market closes lower

European equities closed lower on Tuesday, after data released from the euro zone gave a mixed picture of the region's recovery and U.S. stocks posting steep declines.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed lower by 0.8 percent at 1,306.27 points -- with all major sectors falling bar financial services.The German DAX was one of the biggest losers, slipping around 1.5 percent.

Euro zone manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) data for December met expectations with a 52.7 reading. Germany's manufacturing number just beat expectations whilst France continued to be a laggard with a figure of 47.0, against estimates of 47.1. Spanish and Italian data beat forecasts in a Reuters poll.

In the U.S., stocks fell sharply on Thursday, after closing out 2013 with double-digit gains, as a downgrade of Apple hit the technology sector and investors appeared to ignore a decline in and a strong manufacturing report.

China data weighs

Asian equity markets were mixed on Thursday after a final report from HSBC showed Chinese factory activity hit a three-month low in December. The manufacturing data from HSBC follows Wednesday's official reading, which missed expectations, and confirmed the Chinese economy lost some momentum in the final quarter of 2013.

The basic resources sector in Europe, which is heavily exposed to China, posted some of the biggest losses on Thursday, closing down roughly 0.78 percent.

'Another strong year' for equities

Fiat shares soar

In stocks news, shares of carmaker Fiat soared 15.4 percent after announcing on Wednesday that it had agreed to buy the rest of U.S. unit Chrysler in a $4.35 billion deal.

Shares of Italian defense giant Finmeccanica fell 0.36 percent after reports that India had cancelled a $753 million helicopter deal with allegations of corruption by the firm.

British retailer John Lewis said on Thursday that it saw a 7.2 percent rise in Christmas sales on the back of strong consumer demand despite unusually stormy weather in the run-up to Christmas.

Meanwhile Simon Herrick, the chief financial officer at U.K. retailer Debenhams has resigned, the company announced. This follows a profit warning issued on Tuesday; shares of the firm were higher by 2.6 percent after falling 12 percent on Tuesday.

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