Europe Stocks Close Lower After Euro Zone Data

European shares closed lower on Friday after disappointing German and Italian data was released. In addition, markets continued to see selling on fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin to taper its asset-purchasing program.


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index closed provisionally down 0.7 percent on Friday at 1,219.34 points, its lowest level since early May. However, the index closed 1.6 percent up on the month, in its 12th successive month of gains. This is the longest winning streak in its 16-year history.

"All eyes remain on the U.S., analyzing every piece of data to establish if and when stimulus measures will be withdrawn - with every piece of bad news being actively welcomed by the market," Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor said in a morning note.

"This inverted logic is unsustainable in the long term, but for the moment as the withdrawal of liquidity is perceived as being more painful than an economic slowdown, investors are happy to live in this bubble for as long as they can."

Data for Italy showed its unemployment rate climbed to a worse-than expected 12 percent in April. In addition, youth unemployment rose to a record of 40.5 percent.

(Read More: Italy Youth Unemployment Hits Record 40.5%)

Retail sales data for Germany also disappointed, showing a 0.4 percent dip in April month-on-month, when analysts had expected a 0.2 percent increase.

Better news came from the U.K., when the British Chambers of Commerce, reported it had upped its gross domestic product forecast for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

(Read More: UK Growth Will Beat Expectations: Industry Body)

After its meeting Vienna, OPEC said it was holding its production target at 30 million barrels a day, as expected.

(Read More: OPEC Ministers: Falling Demand Is Our Top Concern)