European stocks drifted lower in Friday trading as investors maintained a cautious tone ahead of Sunday's presidential elections in France even as strong data from the region's second-largest economy suggests solid underlying growth.
The region-wide Stoxx 600 Europe Index, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.06% lower at 11:00 BST, with Britain's FTSE 100 slipping 0.2%, or 14 points, to around 7,106 points. U.S. futures prices are pointing to a solid open on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average building on Thursday's gains and adding 10 points at the opening bell. The broader S&P 500, which rose 0.76% into the close yesterday, is priced to rise around 1 point at the start of trading.
Germany's DAX index held onto modest gains, rising 0.12%, while France's CAC-40 was marked 0.65% lower thanks in part to sharp drop in Danone (DANOY) , one of the country's most widely-held shares.
Danone shares fell to a one-month low Friday as disappointing sales in its yogurt division weighed on first quarter performance and offset a boost in the company's full-year earnings forecast linked to the recent takeover of WhiteWave.
Investors, however, were not impressed by Danone's increase to its guidance for recurring earnings-per-share growth for 2017, on the back of it completion of WhiteWave and priced the stock 2.1% lower by 11:30 CET in Paris at €62.36, the weakest level since March 17.
Eurozone economic activity hit a fresh six-year high this month, according to a preliminary estimate from IHS Markit, following a surge in activity in France that suggests the region's election risks are not holding back broader sentiment.