Stock indices closed lower as markets participants are awaiting the release of the U.S. labour market tomorrow. Analysts expect that U.S. unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 4.9% in February. The U.S. economy is expected to add 190,000 jobs in February, after adding 151,000 jobs in January.
Market participants also eyed the mixed economic data from the Eurozone. Eurostat released its retail sales data for the Eurozone on Thursday. Retail sales in the Eurozone increased 0.4% in January, beating expectations for a 0.1% rise, after a 0.6% gain in December. December's figure was revised up from a 0.3% increase.
Non-food sales increased 0.7% in January, food, drinks and tobacco sales rose 0.5%, while automotive fuel sales were up 0.1%.
On a yearly basis, retail sales in the Eurozone climbed 2.0% in January, beating forecasts of a 1.3% gain, after a 2.1% increase in December. December's figure was revised up from a 1.4% gain.
Non-food sales gained 3.0% year-on-year in January, gasoline sales increased 0.3%, while food, drinks and tobacco sales rose 1.4%.
Markit Economics released final services purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the Eurozone on Thursday. Eurozone's final services PMI declined to 53.3 in February from 53.6 in January, up from the preliminary reading of 53.0. It was the lowest level since January 2015.
The index was mainly driven by a weaker rate of improvement in new business, while job creation also slowed.
Eurozone's final composite output index fell to 53.0 in February from 53.6 in January, up from the preliminary reading of 52.7.
"The survey data raise the prospect of economic growth deteriorating further from the already meagre pace seen late last year, when GDP rose only 0.3%," Chief Economist at Markit Chris Williamson said.
Germany's final services PMI rose to 55.3 in February from 55.0 in January, up from the preliminary reading of 55.1. The index was mainly driven by a faster growth in new orders.
France's final services PMI slid to 49.2 in February from 50.3 in January, down from the preliminary reading of 49.8. It was the lowest level since November 2014. The index was driven by declines in new business and backlogs of work.
Markit's and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply's services PMI for the U.K. dropped to 52.7 in February from 55.6 in January, missing expectations for a fall to 55.1. It was the lowest level since March 2013.
The decrease was driven by a slower growth in new business and employment.
"The slowdown in February leaves the PMI surveys suggesting that economic growth could weaken to 0.3% in the first quarter, but there are downside risks to even this modest expansion," the Chief Economist at Markit Chris Williamson said.
Indexes on the close:
Name Price Change Change %
FTSE 100 6,130.46 -16.60 -0.27 %
DAX 9,751.92 -24.70 -0.25 %
CAC 40 4,416.08 -8.81 -0.20 %