SEOUL, South Korea - Global stock markets were subdued on Thursday as investors digested mixed economic data in Europe and looked ahead to the key U.S. monthly jobs report on Friday.
Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent to 6,167.17 and Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent to 9,761.59. France's CAC 40 declined 0.2 percent to 4,414.80. Futures augured a tepid start for Wall Street. Dow futures and S&P futures were both roughly unchanged.
Indicators for the 19-country eurozone showed economic activity eased slightly in February, though retail sales rose. The upshot is that investors still expect the European Central Bank to unveil more stimulus at its March 10 meeting. "Overall, today's data do not alter our view that growth in the eurozone is slowing and that the ECB will need to loosen policy next week," said Jessica Hinds, analyst at Capital Economics.
Chinese leaders were expected to lower their growth target during the upcoming gathering of the National People's Congress this week as China seeks more flexibility for structural reforms for the slowing, state-dominated economy. The growth target due to be announced on Saturday is expected to be a range of 6.5 to 7 percent, down from 2015's goal of about 7 percent.
Asian markets closed mostly higher after solid U.S. jobs survey. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent to 16,960.16 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.6 percent to 1,958.17. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index underperformed other benchmarks in the region, falling 0.3 percent to 19,941.76, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 percent to 2,859.76. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.2 percent to 5,081.10 and stocks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also were higher.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 9 cents at $34.75 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 26 cents on Wednesday. Brent crude fell 5 cents at $36.88 a barrel in London.
The euro rose to $1.0891 from $1.0870 and the dollar rose to 114.02 yen from 113.61 yen.