Europe Shares Close Narrowly Lower After US Data

European shares closed flat-to-lower on Thursday, pressured by downbeat data from the U.S. that included a jump in jobless claims and a drop in housing starts.

Weekly U.S. jobless claims jumped by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, according to the Labor Department, climbing at the fastest pace in six months. Meanwhile, housing starts fell 16.5 percent in April to a 853,000-unit annual rate, well below expectations.


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed down 0.1 percent at 1,244.78, having traded at a session high of 1,247.57, just prior to the U.S. data release.

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In economic releases, euro zone consumer price inflation showed a drop to 1.2 percent on an annual basis in April, down from 1.7 percent in March, according to official statistics.

In the U.K., the FTSE 100 was boosted after shares in insurer Aviva soared over 8 percent when it reported the value of its new business rose by 18 percent last quarter.

Meanwhile, fellow FTSE component Antofagasta reported a drop in first-quarter earnings due to lower copper and gold prices; shares were largely unaffected.