European Stocks Fall on Growth Concerns in China

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stock indices fell on Thursday, taking their cue from declining Chinese indices after price data pointed to economic weakness.

In London, the FTSE 100 fell 0.20% to 6,816.55. In Frankfurt, the DAX fell 0.06% to 9,649.09. The CAC in Paris fell 0.42% to 4,433.13.

U.S. weekly jobless data, out at 8:30 a.m. EDT, may shape the course of afternoon trading. After markets close, European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi will speak at about 9 p.m. local time in Milan, with his comments likely to be closely watched after last week's rate cuts.

In London, Royal Bank of Scotland  (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LYG) headed higher after they said separately that they would redomicile from Scotland to England in the event of a "yes" victory in the Scottish independence referendum next week. National Australia Bank said it would do the same for its Clydesdale Bank subsidiary. The institutions are following in the footsteps of Edinburgh-based insurer Standard Life.

A slew of London-listed retailers posted trading updates.

Electronics retailer Darty, hose business is on mainland Europe, was down close to 6% after releasing first-quarter figures. The company reported 5.9% sales growth -- or 1.7% on a same-store basis -- and said France is doing well, while it had made a market share gains in the Netherlands. But it said gross margins fell and voiced caution about the outlook.

Home Retail Group plunged about 6% after first-half figures showed growth slowed in the second quarter and that sales at the retailer's Argos variety-store chain fell below expectations in the second quarter. The company's CEO said the U.K. consumer recovery is still not a "sustainable, broad-based" one. British clothing retailer Next also declined on disappointing first-half profit figures.

In the food sector, Wm Morrison Supermarkets  (MRWSY) shares held steady after it sweetened news of a 30% decline in first-half profit and a 7.9% decline in same-store sales with a promise to lift the first-half dividend by 5%. Online-only grocer Ocado rose after reporting above-forecast third-quarter sales.

In Paris, Air France-KLM  (AFLYY) was up about 2.8% after announcing a strategic plan to boost operating profit.

In Madrid, broadband provider Jazztel  (JAZTF) edged lower after revealing it is in talks with Sweden's TeliaSonera over a possible offer for its stake in Spanish wireless services provider Yoigo SA. The offer may reportedly value the target at under 500 million euros ($645 million), sources told Bloomberg.

In China, all indices closed lower after an above-forecast 1.2% annual decline in producer prices in August fed growth worries. Consumer price inflation eased to 2% from 2.3%, a four-month low and well below the government's 3.5% inflation target.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.17% at 24,662,64. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.78% to close at 15,909.20.

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