European markets fell on Friday as it emerged that the French economy contracted - rather than stagnated - in the second quarter.
French statistics ageny Insee said the economy contracted 0.1%, after 0.7% first-quarter growth. The contraction compared with its earlier assessment of an economic stagnation in France, which had originally come as a negative shock. Insee said household expenditure fell by 0.1% after growth of 1.1% in the first quarter and fixed capital formation dropped by 0.2% after 1.3% first-quarter growth.
But the blow was softened by preliminary purchasing managers' indices for September from Markit for France. The manufacturing, services and composite indices all came in ahead of expectations, though the manufacturing index held below the 50 marker which divides contraction from expansion.
German PMI figures just out showed the composite index unexpectedly fell to a 16-month low of 52.7, pulled down by the services sector, where the index hit a 39-month low. Only the manufacturing index exceeded expectations, climbing to a three-month high.
The Cac 40 was recently down 0.45% at 4,489.45. In Frankfurt the Dax fell 0.18% to 10,654.77 and in London the FTSE 100 dropped 0.33% to 6,888.53.
U.K. retailer Sports Direct International rose 1.7% after CEO Dave Forsey quit , to be replaced by controversial founder and deputy chairman Mike Ashley. Ashley has had a difficult relationship with institutional investors and analysts and the company recently sustained heavy criticism about its labor practices. It is attempting to address these and this week yielded to pressure to have an independent firm review its practices rather than the existing appointee, RPC, which had previously worked with the retailer extensively. It's also appointing a worker's representative to its board.
In Milan luxury ski jacket maker Moncler fell 1.4% after French investor Eurazeo sold a 6% stake.
U.S. stock futures edged up, with both the Dow Jones mini and the S&P 500 mini up 0.05%.
West Texas intermediate was recently down 0.95% at $45.88.