LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks fell on Thursday, following U.S. stocks lower, and Asian indices were mixed as investors worried that a speech Wednesday by President Obama could presage growth-damaging action to tackle the crisis in Ukraine.
Obama, following a U.S./EU summit, urged European leaders to get tough with Russia, which has taken over the former Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea after the region held a unilateral referendum.
In the U.K., data showed February retail sales rose 3.7% year on year, well above the 2.5% increase economists had predicted, pushing the pound higher. Fourth-quarter GDP news from the U.S., along with jobless claims and home sales data, should shape afternoon trading.
In London the FTSE 100 gave up 0.47% to 6,574.28. In Frankfurt the DAX drifted down 0.11% to 9,438.54 and in Paris the CAC 40 edged down 0.13% to 4,379.60.
In London, engineering and support services company Babcock International Group pwas down more than 4% after it said it would pay 1.63 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) for the Avincis helicopter rescue business of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Investindustrial. It will fund 1.1 billion pounds of the price with a rights issue priced at 790 pence, a 42% discount to Wednesday's closing price.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)fell after its RBS Citizens Financial Group unit was one of several American and foreign-owned U.S. lenders to fail annual Federal Reserve stress tests. The development will make it harder for the Edinburgh institution to either hold a second-half IPO for the business, as planned, or to sell it, which CEO Ross McEwan has previously said he would consider.