Europe Markets

European markets close lower as investors digest Trump comments; Banco Popular down 3.6%


European markets closed lower Thursday as investors digested U.S. President Donald Trump's comments that he would prefer the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low and suggested the dollar is too strong.

The FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.29 percent at 7,327; the French CAC 40 ended down 0.59 percent at 5,101, and the German DAX closed 0.38 percent lower at 12,154.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 0.35 percent, with the majority of sectors and all major bourses in negative territory. The move comes on the last day of the trading week as equity markets close for the Good Friday holiday. Major bourses will remain closed on Monday in observance of Easter.

For the week, the FTSE 100 and the Stoxx 600 were flat while the CAC 40 and the DAX moved lower by around a percent.

Banks led the losses as several lenders moved towards the bottom of the benchmark as they focused on financial results from U.S. heavyweights. Komercni Banka shares dropped 2.44 percent after the Czech bank announced it would be going ex-dividend. Meanwhile, Romania's Raiff Bank was down 5.49 percent.

Banco Popular took yet another dive on Thursday as investors continued to digest news that the embattled Spanish lender is looking to raise more capital. Its shares were 3.6 percent lower.

Construction & materials also closed lower, down 0.56 percent, with construction company CRH Plc and transport company Alstom among the poorest performers.

Travel and leisure stocks contracted as shares in Europe's biggest airline group by revenues, Lufthansa, slipped on reports a major investor was looking to sell a stake. Infinite Miles, a shareholder in the German airline, was said to have placed a 2.5 percent stake at 15.25 euros ($16.26) apiece for sale, according to a Reuters report citing a source which could not be verified by CNBC. Lufthansa shares were over 3 percent lower Thursday.

Meanwhile, shares of Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) surged to hit a record high on Thursday. A Swedish newspaper, citing unnamed sources, suggested a group of private equity companies were set to bid around 200 billion Swedish crowns ($22.3 billion) for the hygiene arm of the firm. Its shares were over 7.7 percent higher.

Elsewhere, U.S. markets were trading slightly higher on the last day of trade before the long weekend, buoyed by better-than-expected bank earnings.

Oil market 'very close' to a balance

In terms of economic data, Britain's Chamber of Commerce released its quarterly economic survey Thursday. The report showed solid economic growth was likely in the first three months of the year though cited rising inflation in the U.K. as a key risk.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its monthly oil market report on Thursday and projected the oil market was now 'very close' to reaching a balance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to host his annual televised call-in show in which he takes questions from people around the country for several hours.

Elsewhere, Turkish voters prepare to vote in a referendum on constitutional reforms on Sunday which could transfer unprecedented executive powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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