Europe midday: Stocks mostly lower on poor Chinese data
European stocks were mostly lower by midday on Tuesday after the release of weak Chinese data, as investors continued to eye this week's European Central Bank meeting.
At 1239 BST, the Stoxx 600 was down 0.3% at 385.08 while France's CAC 40 was 0.2% lower at 5,578.26, but the German Dax bucked the trend, up 0.2% to 12,255.64. London's FTSE 100 was 0.1% lower at 7,232.17.
Growth concerns knocked sentiment as data from China's National Bureau of Statistics showed that factory gate prices contracted for a second successive month in August, dropping by 0.8% compared to a year earlier. This was the largest contraction in three years, though it was not quite as bad as the 0.9% drop analysts had been expecting following a 0.3% drop in July.
European investors were looking ahead to the ECB meeting on Thursday amid expectations of a stimulus package announcement.
Analysts at Rabobank said: "Though some resistance is building as regards re-starting the ECB’s quantitative easing programme we fully expect an October re-start of the APP (asset purchase programmes) to be announced at September’s meeting of the Governing Council."
"It is also expected this announcement will be accompanied by a cut in the depo rate as soon as this month, an adjustment to the existing forward guidance and mitigating measures for the side effects of negative rates."
In corporate news, France's EDF was the biggest faller on the Stoxx 600, dropping by 7% as the energy provider said it needs to investigate its nuclear reactors after it was informed of anomalies in some steam generators and components.
An overnight drop in the US software sector found its way to Europe, with stocks such as Nemetschek, Aveva, SAP and Dassault all trading lower.
Elsewhere, airlines IAG, easyJet and Ryanair topped the charts, recovering from falls in Monday's session when Air France warned that close-in bookings in the year's peak travel period were weaker than foreseen due to a softening of the macro-economic environment.
Sportswear retailer JD Sports rose as it reported a 47% jump in interim revenue following new store openings in mainland Europe, the Asia Pacific region and North America.
Barclays, AIB and UBS were among the top European risers as optimism over eurozone stimulus firmed up the share price of major banks.