European stocks were mixed on Friday morning as investors assessed new economic data from the UK, France, and Germany.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday that the volume of retail sales rose by 2% in July. Analysts had expected a month-on-month increase of just 0.2%.
But the positivity on the continent was tempered by separate ONS data that showed UK public debt at the end of July was bigger than the size of the entire UK economy for the first time in more than half a century.
And while purchasing managers’ index data from the UK indicated a faster-than-expected recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, similar data from France and Germany suggested that the rebound in the eurozone is slowing.
“If there was hope the FTSE 100 could pick itself back up after Thursday’s big stumble then Friday has only brought disappointment as the index slipped back modestly to trade below the 6,000 mark for the first time since late July,” said Russ Mould, the investment director at AJ Bell.
“It feels like the market is gradually coming to the realisation that the world is going to have to live with Covid-19 for longer as countries which have emerged from lockdown experience localised flare-ups and a general increase in infections,” he said.
The declines in Europe followed a strong trading session in Asia.
Futures were pointing to a flat open for stocks in the US.
The broader US market has drifted sideways this week after the S&P 500 hit a record high on Tuesday. Investors have piled back into technology and “stay at home” stocks, amid signs that the US economic recovery may drag on.