The Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.2% to end at 333.99, after closing at the highest level in six years on Wednesday.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates responds to questions submitted via Twitter addressing the “culture of war” and his plans for 2016, in this excerpt from an interview with WSJ?s Michael Casey.
?We are due for a healthy correction. Markets going down are not necessarily a bad thing, but markets going up without a pullback makes me nervous. Because when we do get a pullback it will be more dramatic,? said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets.
?If the stock markets were a parameter of the overall economies around the world, they would be a lot lower. They are not reflecting fundamentals right now ? if they were, they would have gone down in 2012. With so much monetary stimulus sloshing around in the financial system, I don?t know where the market is fairly valued at,? he added.
Posting one of the biggest losses in the pan-European benchmark, shares of Premier Oil PLC?UK:PMO?-6.49% ?dropped 6.5% after the oil exploration and production company said?output in 2013 was in the middle of its guidance.
Shares of Associated British Foods PLC lost 2.6% after the food and retail firm said its budget-clothing chain Primark posted strong sales around Christmas, but that its?sugar business was weaker than expected.
Royal Ahold NV gave up 2.5% after the Dutch supermarket firm said?sales declined by 4.2% in the fourth quarter?due to foreign-exchange effects and a loss of market share in its two key regions.
Swiss Re AG lost 1.9% after J.P. Morgan Cazenove cut the reinsurance firm to underweight from neutral.
The country-specific indexes were mostly weaker, as investors pulled back after solid gains earlier in the week. U.S. stocks?also traded lower?after earnings disappointment from blue chips. Additionally weekly jobless claims?fell to a six-week low?and consumer-price?inflation ticked higher in the U.S.
?Unemployment claims in the U.S. came in at 326,000, 1,000 lower than forecast,? said Alex Conroy, financial trader with Spreadex, in a note. ?Following last Friday?s disappointing nonfarm figures, this could rekindle speculators? fears that the Fed could speed up the tapering process when the FOMC two-day meeting gets under way on Jan. 28.?
Germany?s DAX 30 index ??dropped 0.2% to 9,717.71, after closing at an all-time high on Wednesday. France?s CAC 40 index fell 0.3% to 4,319.27 and the U.K.?s FTSE 100 index slipped 0.1% to 6,815.42.
Mining firms rose in London after Citigroup moved its 12-month stance on?the sector to bullish from neutral?, marking the first upbeat call from the bank in three years. Within the industry, Citi said it prefers BHP Billiton PLC, up 3.8%, Rio Tinto PLC, 2.5% higher, and Glencore Xstrata PLC up 2.4%. Metals prices?were mostly higher.
United Utilities Group PLC climbed 4.6% after Morgan Stanley lifted the firm to overweight from equal weight.
Outside the major indexes, shares of Cie. Financi?re Richemont SA dropped 2% after?third-quarter sales missed expectations.