Europe Shares Close Mixed: US Data Knocks Sentiment

European shares closed mixed on Thursday, after a rally in technology shares was curbed when Nokia released disappointing earnings. Yet more weak U.S. data also weighed on investor sentiment.


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index closed provisionally flat at 1,147.80 points, down from a session high of 1,154.62. The index is down 3.5 percent so far in the current quarter, according to Reuters.

Early gains in European markets pared back after Nokia released weak margin guidance for its second quarter, on Thursday. Nokia shares closed unofficially 8.3 percent lower and were the third worst performers on the STOXX 600 Index.

French catering and voucher group Sodexo was the worst performer on the index, after it downgraded its profit target for 2012/13 and said it would step up cost-cutting plans. Sodexo stock closed provisionally 9.6 percent lower.

Banks were the worst performing sector in Europe, closing unofficially down 1.1 percent, after the U.S.'s Morgan Stanley released disappointing first quarter earnings.

(Read More: Morgan Stanley's Still the Sick Man of Wall Street)

European shares were also hit when the U.S. Conference Board released a gauge of future economic activity that showed leading indicators dipped in March for the first time in seven months.

In Europe, Italy's Parliament failed to elect a president at the first attempt, as the center-left's official candidate Franco Marini did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority. A second vote is due to be held later on Thursday.

(Read More: Stalemate After First Round in Italy's Presidential Vote)

In Germany, Parliament approved the Cypriot bailout with a large majority, smoothing the path for the struggling euro zone country to receive 10 billion euros ($13 billion) in aid.

Spain's treasury sold medium and long-term debt on Thursday with the bid-to-cover ratio at the top end of its range. The yield on the country's 10-year benchmark bond fell to its lowest level in three years.

(Read More: Spanish Bond Auction Flags Appetite for Peripheral Debt)

In other stock news, SAB Miller issued a full year trading update on Thursday that showed growth is strong in Africa, but weak in Latin America. Shares closed 1.24 percent higher.

(Read More: Beer and Africa: A Recipe for Profit?)

British insurance group Aviva will cut up to 2,000 jobs worldwide as part of its latest cost-cutting drive, CEO Mark Wilson reported on Thursday. Aviva shares unofficially closed 0.30 percent down.