Eurozone worries lead European stocks lower

<p>The eurozone registered small falls at the start of the trading session this morning following weak economic data on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday. […]</p>

The eurozone registered small falls at the start of the trading session this morning following weak economic data on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday. Additionally Moody’s cut the ratings on five Portuguese banks and the head of sovereign ratings at S&P stated that Greece will probably have to restructure its debt again, although no specific date was given. With little show of confidence across the European region we have seen the FTSE 100 fall off further after a lower close of 0.6% yesterday. However, despite the lower close it is worth noting that the high of 5941 in yesterday’s session is just 50 points away from the 52-week high.

Looking at single stocks, Rio Tinto heads up the leader board with an increase of 2.44% as it invited bids yesterday for its diamond business. However miners in general have shown a strong start, picking up from recent poor performance which has seen the sector drop over 11% in recent weeks. On the negative side Marks and Spencer’s and Next are the worst performers caught in the sector slump after first quarter numbers from the world’s third biggest clothes retailer H&M came in worse than expected.

It is a busy day as far as economic data is concerned both here in Europe and across the Atlantic in America. On the domestic front, the morning is focused on housing data and mortgage approvals. Firstly the Nationwide House Price Index showed an actual decline for house prices of almost 1% for March year on year – a weaker figure than the expected rise of 0.9, although this could be attributed to the end of the stamp duty holiday. Mortgage approvals for February are due for release at 9.30am and are expected to have fallen from 58700 to 57200. These figures combined demonstrate that the housing market is struggling to shine but and the outlook is stable.

On a European level the German unemployment figures were also released this morning at a rate of 6.7% versus 6.8% last month, there were 18000 less unemployed people in Germany in March compared to February. A much needed positive figure given the concerns for the European region following the downgrades this morning. Finally for Europe this morning, European consumer confidence released at 10am GMT will give additional insight as to the sentiment felt across the region. With regards to the US, 1.30pm sees the headline figure of US Gross Domestic Product, which is expected at 0.9% for Q4 or annualised at 3%. This is the most comprehensive overall measure of economic output and in conjunction with Initial Jobless Claims at 1.30pm GMT; investors will be able to decipher whether the economy is improving and whether the steam behind the American economic recovery is still blowing strong.

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