European Stocks Tumble on Disappointing Data

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stock indices tumbled on Thursday, refusing to follow U.S. markets higher after Federal Reserve minutes on Wednesday stoked optimism about the monetary outlook.

Weaker-than-expected French consumer price data, disappointing industrial output figures for both France and Italy, and troubles at Portugal's largest listed bank added to the sense of gloom, which engulfed several companies reporting positive figures. In the U.K. the trade deficit unexpectedly widened in May, reigniting the usual worries about Britain's economic imbalance.

The Bank of England meets Thursday to set rates and is expected to confirm that it will leave the benchmark rate unchanged at 0.5%.

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.74% at 6,668.08 and in Frankfurt the DAX fell 1.28% to 9,682.37. In Paris, the CAC 40 declined 1.43% to 4,297.65.

Luxury clothing maker Burberry Group was a rare gainer, after first-quarter sales grew more than expected. Encouragingly the company posted double-digit growth in Asia Pacific, allaying fears about a Chinese slowdown, as well in North America, though it did warn of "increasing currency headwinds."

But bike and car parts retailer Halfords Group ceded early gains to trade down after posting strong first-quarter sales figures, including 7.9% growth in same-store retail sales. Recruitment services company Hays also fell despite strong quarterly figures.

But EQT Partners AB-backed catering company SSP Group rose about 6% on its debut after pricing its IPO shares at 210 pence to attain a market value of 997 million pounds ($1.7 billion), at the low end of expectations.

In Lisbon, Banco Espirito Santo tumbled after a wealth management affiliate delayed payments on debt. Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday downgraded Espirito Santo Financial Group SA, Banco Espirito's 25% owner and the parent of the troubled wealth management business, and put Banco Espirito debt on review for a downgrade.

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