European shares are expected to open lower Thursday as concerns turn to Spain after the country’s bond yields rose sharply Wednesday, prompting fears that the debt crisis plaguing the euro zone could return.
The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 is called down 5 points, Germany’s DAX seen lower by 12 points, and the French CAC down by 3 points.
Portugal is bracedfor a 24-hour general strike against the government’s austerity measures introduced by the government in return for the country’s 78 billion euro bailout.
Concerns over a China slowdown and fears it could end in an economic “hard landing” were further stoked by data showing a factory activity slowdown for the fifth consecutive month in March. The HSBC flash purchasing managers index showed the PMI had slipped to 48.1.
The siege outside an apartment block where the gunman suspected of a spate of killings in the Toulouse area in France continues into its second day. French police have fired shots and set off explosives to try and force Mohamed Meran, a French citizen of Algerian origin out of his apartment.
In earnings news, French luxury brand Hermes reports fourth-quarter results, and Kingfisher and clothing retailer Next release preliminary results in the UK. In the U.S., FedEx and Nike will be reporting today.