European stocks weaker as Wall Street slips


European markets ended the session in the red Thursday, weighed down by a weaker showing on Wall Street, traders said.

After already starting the session in negative territory, the main European stock markets ended in the day deeper in negative territory, as Wall Street gave up its initial gains while investors awaited a volley of corporate earnings reports and economic indicators.

In Frankfurt, the European Central Bank held its key interest rates unchanged at historic lows and its massive bond-buying programme intact, as expected, at its regular policy meeting.

After notching up gains earlier in the week, investors were currently taking profit, traders said.

"The euro and equity markets have had a strong week so far, thanks mainly to a market-friendly outcome of the French first round presidential election at the weekend," said analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

"The stock markets in Europe also sighed relief as fears about the future of the European Union receded."

Financial markets also appeared to take in their stride the outlines of President Donald Trump's tax cut proposals and plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

On Wednesday, the White House had unveiled plans to slash corporate and individual rates, but there were few details and several questions over how the measures will be paid for.

The proposals are part of a wide-ranging plan to fire the world's top economy, which also includes ramping up infrastructure spending and wiping away business regulations.

London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler said that while Trump was set to mark his 100th day in office on Saturday (Shenzhen: 002291.SZ - news) , the fact that the president "hasn't checked off every box on his 100-day to-do list is not a reason to panic.

"From a markets standpoint, very few of Trump's pledges for the first 100 days really matter. Markets specifically want Trump to get the job done on tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation. Significant policy overhauls can't happen in 100 days," Lawler said.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo stocks fell 0.2 percent after a four-day rally, with dealers unmoved by the Bank of Japan's decision to lower its inflation target and stand pat on its monetary easing programme.

But Hong Kong climbed 0.5 percent for a sixth-straight gain, while Sydney added 0.2 percent and Shanghai ended 0.4 percent higher.

- Key figures at 1545 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at at 20,947.01 points

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.7 percent at 7,237.17 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,443.79 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 5,271.70 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,563.29 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 19,251.87 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 24,698.48 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,152.19 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0871 from $1.0854

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2893 from $1.2883

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.09 yen from 111.58 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN $1.24 at $51.17 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.20 at $48.42