Markets in Europe provisionally closed lower on Thursday as investors took a breather after a strong rally on Wall Street and focused on earnings and political instability.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 looked set to close flat at 0.01 percent, with basic resources and retail leading the falls on earnings news. Basic resources had enjoyed an uplift in early trading following U.S. President Donald Trump's Congress address Tuesday. Utilities were the best-performing stocks by close of play Thursday.
U.S. markets moved lower in early trading Thursday, however, Snap stocks soared following its IPO on the NYSE, listing at $24 per share.
Back in Europe, French energy firm Engie said that it would cut exposure to volatile energy prices and it announced the acquisition of Keepmoat regeneration. Its shares looked to close the day up 7.94 percent.
Capita was at the bottom of the European benchmark, down 9.11 percent after news that its chief executive is to quit following a 33 percent fall in pre-tax profits. Building materials supplier Travis Perkins was also trading lower, down by more than 6.13 percent after a 67 percent drop in pretax profit. By contrast, Cobham looked to close at the top of the Stoxx 600, up by 13.4 percent, after announcing a £500 million rights issue.
Adecco, the world's largest provider of temporary staff, reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. LafargeHolcim said Thursday that an additional 1 billion Swiss francs ($0.99 billion) are expected from divestments in 2017, and the company is ready to take part in big infrastructure projects in the U.S.
Data released Thursday morning showed euro zone annual flash inflation at 2 percent in February, up from 1.8 percent in January. In terms of unemployment, the rate stood at 9.6 percent in January, unchanged from December.
Meanwhile, the French presidential election is heating up, after authorities decided to formally investigate the conservative candidate Francois Fillon for misusing public funds. His centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron has outlined his manifesto on Thursday morning.