European Shares Hit by Weak EU Growth Data

European shares ended lower on Thursday after investor sentiment was hit by weak regional growth data, although a bounce off technical support and some solid U.S. data helped indexes close off their lows.

The FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed down 1.39 points at 1,164.22, hovering 12 points off 2-year highs, while a leading euro zone blue-chip index closed down 0.7 percent at 2.638.07.

European shares weakened after data showed the euro zone economy shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, but pared losses late on, after bullish jobs data in the U.S. sparked a recovery on Wall Street.

Wall Street edged back towards 5-year highs, while in Europe the Euro STOXX 50 found strong support at 2,600 both from prior peaks and the uptrend line from its 2012 low.

"Mixed economic data created uncertainty and we have had a lot of uptrends extending so it is only natural to see a little bit of caution, but there is some solid support preventing a sharper retracement" Dominic Hawker, technical strategist at Messels, said.