BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - The European markets got off to a weak start Wednesday, but quickly recovered and climbed into positive territory for much of the day. The gains were fueled by the strength of the mining sector following the release of the Chinese industrial production report. Comments from ECB President Mario Draghi also contributed to the early gains.
However, the markets began to pared their gains in the afternoon, after the weak start to the day on Wall Street. Traders were disappointed by the weaker than expected U.S. retail sales report. The pullback left the majority of the European markets in negative territory.
The European Central Bank will end the asset purchase programme only when inflation makes sufficient progress in its path towards the target of 'below, but close to 2 percent' over the medium term, President Mario Draghi said Wednesday.
Although inflation is converging towards the target over the medium term, the central bank requires more evidence, Draghi said at a conference organized by the Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability, in Frankfurt.
'We still need to see further evidence that inflation dynamics are moving in the right direction,' he said. The monetary policy will remain patient, persistent and prudent to guarantee the return of inflation to the target, said Draghi.
The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index weakened by 0.15 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks decreased 0.18 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, lost 0.20 percent.
The DAX of Germany climbed 0.14 percent, but the CAC 40 of France fell 0.18 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.09 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished lower by 0.13 percent.
In Frankfurt, Adidas soared 11.72 percent after announcing a multi-year share buyback program of up to 3.0 billion euros.
Software AG dropped 1.80 percent after it decided to redeem 2.40 million treasury shares.
Chemical firm SGL Group climbed 1.97 percent after narrowing its Group 2017 loss from continuing operations.
In London, infrastructure group Balfour Beatty advanced 1.88 percent after reporting a big jump in annual profit.
Prudential jumped 5.81 percent. The U.K.'s biggest insurer said it would spin itself into two as part of a radical break-up.
Hikma Pharma surged 6.49 percent. The generic pharmaceutical company lifted annual dividend after reporting fiscal 2017 loss of $843 million, primarily reflecting the impairment of West-Ward Columbus' intangible assets of $920 million and property plant and equipment of $164 million.
Eurozone industrial production declined for the first time in four months in January, Eurostat reported Thursday. Industrial production decreased 1 percent month-on-month in January, in contrast to December's 0.4 percent rise. This was the first fall since last September and also bigger than the forecast of 0.4 percent drop.
Eurozone employment grew at a slower pace in the three months ended December, data from Eurostat showed Wednesday. Employment rose 0.3 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, just below the 0.4 percent stable rate of increase in the third quarter.
Germany's consumer price inflation eased as initially estimated in February, final data from Destatis showed Wednesday. Consumer price inflation eased to 1.4 percent in February from 1.6 percent in January. This was the third consecutive decrease and the lowest since November 2016.
China's industrial production expanded the most since mid-2017 and retail sales grew strongly, suggesting that the economy sustained robust growth at the start of the year. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that industrial output climbed 7.2 percent year-on-year in January to February period, while growth was seen at 6.2 percent, the same as in December.
U.S. retail sales fell for a third month in a row in February, according to figures from the Commerce Department. Retail sales were off 0.1 percent, disappointing economists looking for growth of 0.4 percent.
U.S. wholesale prices rose slightly in February, roughly in line with the tepid growth seen in consumer prices. On a monthly basis, the producer price index that measures wholesale inflation was up 0.2% following January's 0.4% increase. That's tepid but still more than the 0.1% growth expected by economists.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX