European benchmarks slipped Thursday, giving back earlier gains, as investors fixated on corporate earnings, a return of inflation and the pending initial public offering of Snap Inc. (SNAP) - Get Report .
Markets opened higher in the morning, but took a turn for the worse a few hours into the session when eurozone CPI data showed inflation rising by 20 basis points in February, back to the European Central Bank's 2% target.
However, core inflation, which strips out price changes for energy and food, remained steady at 0.9% for the third month running.
The stability of the core CPI measure neuters the argument that rising inflation could push the ECB into paring back its stimulus program.
That said, core inflation has still reversed its earlier decline and is now locked in a steady upward trend, which underlines the narrative of economic recovery in Europe. It also ensures that markets cannot discount the prospect of the ECB beginning to empty the punch bowl at some time in the not-too-distant future.
Added to the inflation mantra were concerns over the likely outcome of the Snap Inc IPO, which was set to test investors' willingness to put capital on the table for tech assets, and risk stocks more broadly. Snap opened Thursday at $24 on the NYSE.
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.01% at 7,382 in London, while the CAC 40 in Paris notched up a 0.10% gain, to settle at 4,963. The DAX in Frankfurt slipped 0.06%, to close at 12,059.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index, currently the broadest measure of European stocks, slipped 0.01% to 375.6.
In individual stocks, London's biggest faller among blue chips was outsourcing firm Capita (CTAGF) , which lost its chief executive over poor company performance and got the boot from the U.K.'s large-cap FTSE 100 index in the quarterly reshuffle.
Capita reported that pre-tax profit fell 33% for the 2016 year, sending the shares down nearly 5% by the close.
In continental Europe, Thyssenkrupp (TYEKF) and ArcelorMittal (MT) - Get Report were the biggest fallers in both Germany and France, down 1.5% and 2.1%, respectively, after giving back Wednesday's gains.
Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) was also a big faller in Germany after it wrote down the value of its €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion) investment in BT Group (BT) , to reflect the fall in sterling and a decline in the company's share price. BT itself has also been hit by an accounting scandal in its Italian division in recent months.