European Stocks Fall as Eurozone Recovery Remains Tentative

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks fell on Thursday as Ukraine claimed Russia had stepped up its involvement in the country's civil war and data suggested the eurozone's economic recovery remains tentative.

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Unemployment in Germany, the eurozone's largest economy, unexpectedly rose in August, though the rate held steady at 6.7%.

Meanwhile, Spanish second-quarter GDP data confirmed the country's economy is on the mend but separate figures showed a 0.5% year-on-year decline in consumer prices in August, a deterioration from the negative 0.3% rate of July. 

From Germany later Thursday, analysts are looking for an unchanged August inflation rate of 0.8% and from the U.S. for a 300,000 rise in initial weekly jobless claims, up marginally on July. 

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.21% at 6,816.25. In Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.69% at 9,503.61. The CAC in Paris gave up 0.46% to stand at 4,375.06 as of late morning. 

In Paris, Vivendi shares fell as a bid war erupted for its GVT's Brazilian broadband unit.

Telecom Italia has submitted a 7 billion euros ($9.2 billion) offer for GVT, including shares in itself, a stake in its Brazilian business and just 1.7 billion euros of cash.

The Italian company is vying for GVT with Telefonica, which has sweetened a previous offer to 7.45 billion euros and given Vivendi a Friday deadline to make up its mind.. The cash element of Telefonica's offer is 4.663 billion euros. The bid also includes a stake in its Brazilian unit, and an option for Vivendi to swap about a third of that holding for Telefonica shares in Telecom Italia. 

Vivendi's supervisory board will consider both proposals later Thursday, it said.

In France, construction and telecoms company Bouygues pared earlier losses but remained down after the company trimmed its full-year sales target and reported a 61% decline in first-half operating profit because of a telecom price war. It expects 2014 revenue to drop by 1% to 2%; it had previously envisaged sales being similar to the 2013 level. 

Absolut vodka maker Pernod Ricard was up 1.3% by late morning after meeting fiscal 2014 targets which it had cut in February. A 23% decline in Chinese sales and adverse currency movements pushed revenue down 7% to 7.95 billion euros but cost controls allowed Pernod to eke out a 2% increase in profit to 2.06 billion euros.

The company said it expects a "gradual improvement" in sales but didn't give a time frame. 

Also in Paris, eye glasses maker Essilor International was close to 5% higher after announcing strong first-half figures and predicting that full-year revenue will rise 13%, before the impact of exchange-rate fluctuations, with improved operating margins. 

In the Netherlands, Gemalto was down about 3% by late morning after the security software maker missed consensus sales and earnings forecasts in the first half. 

In London small-cap portable hotel maker Snoozebox Holdings was up almost 5% after confirming it's struck a preliminary deal to provide accommodation for the 2018 World Cup in the Russian host city of Saransk. The company said its shelters can be built anywhere as they don't need mains services or even flat ground. 

Also in London, Salamander Energy, which took itself off the auction block in July after striking a $280 million deal to sell key Thai assets instead, and gaming company Paddy Power both sustained losses after releasing first-half earnings reports. 

In Sydney Qantas Airways ended the day up almost 7% after it predicted a return to profit in the first half.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.48% to 15,459.86 as a rise in the yen hurt exports. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng lost 0.71% to end the day at 24,741.00.

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