European stocks declined Wednesday as higher-than-expected U.S. core consumer price inflation dented investor confidence, although Intel /zigman2/quotes/203649727/composite INTC -1.77% 's sales surge gave technology companies a boost and cushioned the losses.
In late trading, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index declined 0.5% to 257.66, while the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx Index fell 0.3% to 270.41. The Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index retreated 0.4% to 2944.3, while the Dow Jones Stoxx 50 Index slipped 0.8% to 2808.9.
At the close, London's FTSE-100 Share Index dropped 0.7% to 4823, while in Paris the CAC-40 Index fell 0.3% to 3950. Frankfurt's Xetra Dax Index retreated 0.6% to 4179.
U.S. stocks see-sawed, with Dow industrials slightly higher when European markets closed for the day. The euro and the British pound both rose on the dollar as concerns about U.S. CPI turned toward economic growth and away from possible interest-rate hikes.
In the European industrial sectors, shares gained early after Chinese government data showed a 9.5% rise in first-quarter GDP, beating economists' expectations even as other data show the government's cooling steps are having some effect.
Responding to the early rise in industrial stocks, shares in British chemical maker Imperial Chemical Industries rose 0.3%. ICI gains were complemented by a broker upgrade to neutral from underperform by Credit Suisse First Boston.
However, the benchmark trended down, pressured by pharmaceutical stocks such as AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.70% and GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/200381158/delayed UK:GSK +0.03% and as mining stocks retreated from earlier highs.
Shares of Swiss drug maker Novartis were also in focus in Zurich, up 0.3%, ahead of earnings on Thursday. The company warned about life-threatening skin reactions reported in patients who took epilepsy treatment Trileptal.
Intel bolstered the Continental chip sector, in particular Dutch equipment maker ASML /zigman2/quotes/210293876/composite ASML -1.28% , which rose 2%. German memory-chip maker Infineon Technologies added 0.9%.
Dutch consumer-electronics group, Philips Electronics, which recently reported a 79% decline in quarterly profits, agreed to sell its asset management and pension management activities to Merrill Lynch and Hewitt Associates for undisclosed terms. Shares eased 0.2%.
Dutch bank ABN Amro said it has agreed to sell its Dutch private bank Nachenius, Tjeenk & Co, to BNP Paribas in a deal expected to be completed at the start of the second half. No terms were announced.
BNP shares fell 1.2%, while ABN Amro declined 1.1%.
French spirits group Pernod Ricard and U.S. peer Fortune Brands are expected to submit a formal bid to acquire the U.K. spirits to donut maker Allied Domecq, offering 670 pence for each Allied Domecq share in a deal that values the company at some £7.4 billion, French newspaper La Tribune reported Wednesday, citing sources close to the matter.
Pernod shares eased 0.1%, while Allied Domecq shares gained 0.7%.
Meanwhile, Pernod peer Remy Cointreau gained 0.2% after the company posted organic sales growth of 5.1% on revenue of €905.1 million for the 12-month period ended March 31.
Elsewhere, German luxury retailer Hugo Boss shares rocketed 6% in German trade after reporting a 14% sales rise in the first quarter to €406 million, helped by 37% growth from its Boss Woman line.
The euro was slightly lower against the dollar at $1.3074, from $1.3075 in New York late Monday. The pound fell to $1.9180 from $1.9194.
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