Most stock indices closed lower on a stronger euro. The euro rose against the U.S. dollar after the U.S. retail sales. The U.S. retail sales were flat in April, missing expectations for a 0.2% increase, after a 1.1% gain in March. March's figure was revised up from a 0.9% increase.
The reading was driven by lower automobiles and gasoline purchases. Automobiles sales decreased 0.4% in April, while gasoline station sales decreased 0.7%.
Retail sales excluding automobiles increased 0.1% in April, missing forecasts for a 0.5% rise, after a 0.7% gain in March. March's figure was revised up from a 0.4% rise.
These figures are adding to concerns that U.S. economy is losing momentum, and the Fed might delay its first interest rate hike.
Eurozone's preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.4% in the first quarter, missing expectations for a 0.5% rise, after a 0.3% gain in the fourth quarter.
On a yearly basis, Eurozone's preliminary GDP rose by 1.0% in the first quarter, missing expectations for a 1.1% increase, after a 0.9% gain in the fourth quarter.
Industrial production in the Eurozone fell 0.3% in March, missing expectations for a flat reading, after a 1.0% rise in February. February's figure was revised down from a 1.1% increase.
The decline was driven by a drop in production of energy, which fell 1.7% in March.
On a yearly basis, Eurozone's industrial production gained 1.8% in March, in line with expectations, after a 1.9% increase in February. February's figure was revised up from a 1.6 gain.
The increase was driven by a rise in non-durable consumer goods and in production of energy.
The Greek debt problem still weighs on markets. Greece yesterday repaid €750 million in loans to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to Reuters, the Greek government used emergency reserves in its holding account with the IMF to repay loans.
The Bank of England (BoE) released its Inflation Letter. The BoE lowered its economic growth forecasts. The forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2015 was cut to 2.4%, down from 2.9% three months ago. The GDP growth forecasts for 2016 and 2017 were lowered to 2.6% and 2.4% respectively.
The BoE Governor Mark Carney said that the consumer price inflation could turn negative, but it is expected to rise towards the end of the year.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its labour market data on Wednesday. The U.K. unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in the January to March quarter from 5.7% in the October to December quarter, in line with expectations.
It was the lowest level since 2008.
The claimant count decreased by 12,600 people in April, missing expectations for a drop by 20,000, after a decrease of 16,700 people in March. It was the smallest monthly decline since March 2013.
March's figure was revised down from a decline of 20,700.
Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, climbed by 2.2% in the January to March quarter, exceeding expectations for a rise by 2.1%, after a 1.9% gain in the October to December quarter.
Average weekly earnings, including bonuses, rose by 1.9% in the January to March quarter, exceeding expectations for a gain of 1.7%, after a 1.7% increase in the October to December quarter.
Indexes on the close:
Name Price Change Change %
FTSE 100 6,949.63 15.83 0.23 %
DAX 11,351.46 -120.95 -1.05 %
CAC 40 4,961.86 -12.79 -0.26 %