European stock markets were mixed on Wednesday as economic data brought the punch bowl back into focus and analysts got to work with ratings changes ahead of earnings season.
In the morning hours, data showed that eurozone consumer prices rose more than expected during December, just a day after the German inflation number jumped more than 100 basis points to 1.7%.
The return of price pressures has prompted investors to consider how long it will be before the European Central Bank considers further changes to its bond-buying program, particularly given its previous reluctance to extend the life of it.
Additionally, data from the Bank of England showed the U.K. housing market holding up well in December, with new mortgage approvals rising modestly to 68,000 units. The Markit construction PMI showed sentiment within the industry rebounding to its pre-Brexit referendum level during the recent month.
The firmer slant of U.K. economic data also places a question mark over the length of time that the Bank of England will want to stand behind its own bond-buying and interest rate policies.
This will become a particularly pertinent question if the triggering of Article 50, which marks the beginning of the formal process of exiting the European Union, passes by as a non-event for the economy in the same way that the outcome of the actual referendum did.
Oil prices were up for the session, with the European Brent benchmark rising 1.3% to $56.20, while oil stocks put in another mixed session as the Great Decoupling continued.
The FTSE 100 in London rose by just under 0.20% to 7,189, a new record closing high for the session. The FTSE MIB in Italy was also up by around 0.2% to 19,626. The DAX in Germany and the CAC 40 in France closed flat with Tuesday's levels.
European currencies were stronger against the greenback by the close of the session, with the pound sterling up nearly 100 points at 1.2321 and the euro having gained a similar measure to trade at 1.0479.
Bond markets were lower with yields higher by the tail end of the day, and most of the notable increase in yields seen for French bonds -- which jumped nearly 6 basis points to 0.81%.
French bonds were notably weaker after 2017 presidential candidate Marine Le Pen released further details of her plans to withdraw France from the euro, which would include the redenomination of the nation's debt into a new national currency.
In individual stocks, a lot of the biggest movers for the session were driven by broker ratings changes ahead of earnings season or by market-moving economic announcements.
Big gainers in London included gold miners, which rose on stronger gold prices, while home builders rebounded after data showed mortgage lending and construction activity continuing at a healthy clip in December. Fresnillo (FNLPF) was up by 4.4% while Barratt Developments (BTDPF) and Taylor Wimpey (TWODF) also rose by around 4% each.
Big risers on the continent included Credit Suisse (CS - Get Report) and Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report) , with the former upgraded to buy and the latter benefiting from a raised target price by analysts at Barclays.
In Italy, Ferragamo was the top riser, up by nearly 5% in response to an upgrade from analysts at HSBC.
Fallers for the session included clothing retailer Adidas (ADDYY) , steel and industrial firm ThyssenKrupp (TYEKF) , conglomerate Michelin (MGDDY) and automotive equipment firm Valeo (VLEEY) -- all down by around 2% or more.