European markets pull back as investors watch economic data, earnings

LONDON — European markets retreated on Friday as investors digest key central bank decisions, economic data and corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 0.4% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.1% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into the red.

The European blue chip index enjoyed a strong session on Thursday after three major central banks largely delivered on market expectations.

The European Central Bank hiked interest rates by 50 basis points and signaled a further hike of the same scale in March, vowing to “stay the course” as it looks to reel in inflation.

The Bank of England also hiked rates by half a percentage point as expected, but dropped the word “forcefully” from its language on future hiking, signaling that the end of monetary policy tightening could be near. The Bank also forecast a “much shallower” decline in output than previously projected.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point but gave little indication of an imminent end to its hiking cycle.

Investors in Europe will be monitoring more corporate earnings releases on Friday, along with final January PMI (purchasing managers’ index) readings and December producer price figures from the euro zone.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Friday as Adani Enterprises plunged nearly 20%, continuing a sell-off triggered by allegations raised by short seller firm Hindenburg.

U.S. stock futures mostly fell in early premarket trade after Apple and Google-parent Alphabet both missed estimates on the top and bottom lines for their December quarters, sending tech stocks south. Investors stateside will also be looking to a key data point Friday in the form of the January jobs report.

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