European markets close higher, trimming losses as euro zone inflation eases to 8.5%
This is CNBC's live blog covering European markets.
European stock markets closed higher Thursday, recovering earlier losses after key euro zone inflation data came in above expectations.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index provisionally ended up 0.5% after dipping into negative territory during morning deals. Food and beverage stocks led the gains, up 1.8%, while banks slipped 0.8%.
Headline inflation in the euro zone fell to 8.5% in February, figures published at 10 a.m. London time showed, down from 8.6% the previous month. This was above the 8.2% forecast from economists polled by Reuters and comes as some analysts raise their rate hike expectations for the European Central Bank.
Core inflation, which strips out food and energy, rose from 5.3% to 5.6%.
Regional markets closed lower Wednesday, with economic data released this week giving investors pause for thought.
Data showed inflation in France and Spain accelerated unexpectedly in February, and a German flash estimate put the inflation rate harmonized with the rest of the EU at 9.3% in February, which would be an increase from 9.2% in January.
Asia-Pacific stock markets were mostly lower, with concerns over further Federal Reserve rate hikes back in focus following Wednesday's boost from strong a Chinese manufacturing Purchasing managers' index reading.
U.S. stock futures moved slightly lower on Thursday.
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S&P 500 futures slid Thursday, as traders fretted over a continued rise in interest rates.
Futures tied to the S&P 500 fell 0.5%, while Nasdaq-100 futures dropped 0.8%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures bucked the trend, eking out a small gain as Salesforce shares popped on a strong quarter and forward guidance.
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Euro zone inflation softens to 8.5% in February
Inflation in the euro zone eased slightly in the month of February, following comments from the European Central Bank chief that bringing the rate down will take some time.
Headline inflation across the 20-member bloc came in at 8.5% in February, according to preliminary data released Thursday. By comparison, prices seemed to have cooled off for a third consecutive month in January, with headline inflation at a revised 8.6%.
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Europe markets open lower
Europe's Stoxx 600 index dropped 0.62% in early trade as investors braced themselves for the release of euro zone inflation data at 10:00 a.m. London time.
It follows inflation figures from France, Spain and Germany all coming in hotter than expected for February and showing increases on the previous month.
Germany's DAX was down 0.8%, France's CAC 40 down 0.7% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 down 0.25%.
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German inflation higher than expected in February
German inflation is expected to have risen to 8.7% in February, according to the German Federal Statistics Office.
The rate would sit 0.8% higher than in January, according to the preliminary data.
February's EU-harmonized rate for consumer prices increased to 9.3% year-on-year, above the 9% forecast by economists polled by Reuters. Harmonized inflation was at 9.2% in January.
The rate remains well above the European Central Bank's 2% target and follows the hotter-than-expected February inflation figures from France and Spain.
"It seems to be the case that inflation is very stubborn, so it looks like that inflation will remain on a very high level," Joachim Nagel, President of Deutsche Bundesbank told CNBC's Annette Weisbach Wednesday.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index eased slightly on the announcement, but was flat by 1.30 p.m. London time.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
European markets: Here are the opening calls
European markets are expected to open mixed Thursday.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 7 points higher at 7,624, Germany's DAX 33 points lower at 15,929, France's CAC 14 points lower at 7,194 and Italy's FTSE MIB 22 points lower at 27,025, according to data from IG.
Data releases Thursday include euro zone unemployment figures for the first quarter and revised gross domestic product data for the same period. There are no major earnings releases today.
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