European shares closed lower on Thursday as investors reacted to worse-than-expected data from the euro zone and disappointing corporate earnings from the mining sector.
PMI data released
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed around 0.3 percent lower at 1,355 as a purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the euro zone came in below forecasts. The bloc's November flash composite number came in at 51.4, below expectations of 52.2.
France's November figure for manufacturing slipped to a three-month low but the composite figure - which includes the services sector as well - saw a tick higher to 48.4 from October's reading of 48.2. A figure above 50 marks an expansion in the country so France's figures still showed that both sectors were in contraction.
The French CAC slid over 1.4 percent in afternoon trade, but recovered slightly to close 0.8 percent lower. Financials fell to the bottom of the index and Sanofi also weighed, losing almost 4 percent after the group warned its diabetes business accounting for more than a fifth of group revenue, would show little growth over the next four years. The pharmaceuticals firm finished the session almost 3 percent lower.
Germany's composite number, meanwhile, fell to 52.1 in November - a 16-month low - and down from October's final reading of 53.9. The German DAX provisionally closed up around 0.1 percent, while the IBEX was Europe's biggest faller slumping over 1.6 percent.
U.S. stocks shaved losses as strong domestic data after the open outweighed concerns over continued signs of slowing growth in Europe.
The Philly Fed Index posted 40.8 for November, more than double the expected 18.3 and its highest since December 1993. Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region's manufacturing.
Banks in focus
In other news, Goldman Sachs has fired an investment banker who allegedly accessed confidential information from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, his former employer.
Meanwhile, a two-year Senate investigation into Wall Street's physical commodities business found that U.S. banks-- including Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley -- manipulated prices and gained unfair trading advantages at the expense of consumers, Reuters reported Wednesday evening.
In the U.K., Britain's appeal against the European Union's (EU) planned cap on bankers' bonuses has suffered a blow after the legal advisor to the 28-country bloc's top court rejected the challenge.
U.K. finance secretary George Osborne launched a complaint against the EU rules, unveiled last year, which limit bonuses to no more than a banker's salary, or double that level with shareholder approval. The EU move was designed to discourage bankers from taking excessive risks -- behavior attributed to the global financial crisis.
In stocks news, BHP Biiliton slipped 2.8 percent and weighed on the sector which was the worst performer on Thursday. The company highlighted an iron ore price slide in an earnings release and but said that it would try to maintain its current dividend policy for shareholders.
Shares of German firm ThyssenKrupp rose 1.5 percent after announcing a swing to profit in its fourth-quarter and a resumption of dividend payments.
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