LONDON — European stocks were slightly lower Thursday as investors reacted to fresh data out of China and looked ahead to a key U.S. jobs report later this week.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was trading just below the flatline, down 0.14%. Basic resources stocks, with their heavy exposure to China, showed the biggest losses in early trade.
The index was unmoved by the latest euro zone business activity data which rose in May as coronavirus restrictions eased.
The IHS Markit’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 57.1 in May, up from 53.8 in April. The final reading was ahead of a preliminary 56.9 indication. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction.
Lackluster sentiment in Europe comes after shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher in overnight trade, as investors reacted to data releases in Australia showing positive retail sales growth and the latest economic data out of China.
A private survey released Thursday showed slowing Chinese services activity growth in May. The Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers’ Index for May came in at 55.1 on Thursday, lower than the reading of 56.3 in April.
The market, focused on the link between inflation pressures and the reopening of U.S. businesses, is likely to be on tenterhooks before the release of the jobs report Friday, which is likely to show an additional 671,000 nonfarm payrolls in May, compared to the 266,000 jobs that were added the month before, according to economists polled by Dow Jones.
In individual stocks news, shares of Saint-Gobain were up 3.5%, making it the best performer on the Stoxx 600 index after the French construction materials group said it expected record operating income and margin for the first half of the year, Reuters reported.
The worst performer on the index was the National Grid, its shares down 4.5% as it traded ex-dividend.
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– CNBC’s Tanaya Macheel and Eustance Huang contributed to this market report.