European stocks slipped during noon trading Thursday after ECB head Mario Draghi said the central bank could look to work its way out of its current monetary policy position in the fall.
In response to an audience question, Draghi said that the governing council has not discussed how it would effect such a move, but nonetheless, left markets with the impression that further tapering of its bond-buying program could come later in the year. The threat of action pushed the euro up sharply, which helped to drive the broader market lower.
The FTSE 100 in London bucked the euro-centric trend with a gain of 0.53%, to 7,469, a short time ahead of the close. Over across the English channel, the CAC 40 slumped 0.67% in Paris to be quoted at 5,178 while the DAX dropped 0.39% in Frankfurt to 12,402.
In individual stocks, the banks were big movers with Deutsche Bank (DB) , Credit Agricole (CRARY) and BNP Paribas (BNPQY) all feeling the heat in Europe, while London's Barclays (BCS) and Lloyds (LYG) eked out a gain for the session, thanks to better than expected U.K. retail sales.
Also in London, Premier Foods (PRRFY) shares rose more than 2.5% despite it reporting a fall in first-quarter sales and issuing cautious guidance to investors for the quarter ahead.
The grocery and frozen food distributor, and one-time bid target of McCormick (MKC) , said sales were down by 3.1% to £170.1 million ($221 million) thanks to weakness in its branded grocery division linked to warmer weather and reduced effectiveness of promotional activity. Premier's weak performance during the quarter was in-line with the board's expectations but below those of analysts.
Publicis (PUBGY) shares rose Thursday after the advertising and media agency said it returned to growth in the second quarter, aided by a recovery in its U.S. business.
The agency saw revenue growth of 2.2% and organic growth of 0.8%, to €2.51 billion ($2.82 billion) for the three months ending June 30, marking a sharp turnaround from a dismal first quarter and beating analyst estimates across most metrics.
For the first half, the French advertising group reported a 20-basis point improvement in its operating margin, to 13.2%, which was also ahead of analysts' consensus. Earnings per share of €1.89 were 1.8% ahead of analysts' forecasts and up 4.4% on the same period one year ago.
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