European stocks were mixed Friday morning, after weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales figures raised fresh doubts about the strength of the world’s largest economy.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was flat shortly after the opening bell, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.
Europe’s autos stocks led the losses during morning trade, down more than 1.1 percent amid earnings news. Italy’s Pirelli led the sectoral losses, after reporting a dip in full-year sales late Thursday. Shares of the tiremaker were down over 1 percent on the news.
Looking at individual stocks, Germany’s Scout24 surged to the top of the European benchmark. It comes after Hellman 7 Friedman and Blackstone offered to buy the online classifieds group for 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion), including debt. Shares of Scout24 rose nearly 12 percent during morning trade.
Meanwhile, France’s Eutelstat slumped to the bottom of the index amid earnings news. Shares of the Paris-listed stock tumbled 9 percent after reporting a fall in first-half net revenue.
Elsewhere, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is expected to call a snap general election on Friday. It comes after parliament rejected his minority government’s 2019 budget proposal.
Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, with market participants in wait-and-see mode as high-level U.S.-China trade talks continue in Beijing on Friday.
Both sides had said they were hopeful the latest set of negotiations, which began at the start of the week, could bring them closer to a comprehensive agreement before a March 1 deadline.
On Thursday, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said there has been no decision to extend the deadline for a deal.
Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales figures slipped 1.2 percent in December, with receipts falling across the board. It marked their biggest drop since September 2009.
In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, was down 0.8 percent.