European stocks sputter on U.K. economy fears, sluggish Dow
FTSE-MIB flat at 16,024, spread unvaried at 312 basis points12 March, 20:50
In the UK worse than predicted January manufacturing output figures triggered fears the country could be headed for a triple-dip recession.
Manufacturing output fell 1.5% on the month, compared with an expected 0.1% rise, and dropped 1.6% on the year, compared with a predicted 1% fall.
In the generally flat trading climate, Milan's FTSE-MIB ended the day down 0.4% at 16,024, followed by Spain's IBEX 35, down 0.3% at 8,532.3, and Frankfurt's DAX, which shed 0.2% at 7,966.1.
London's FTSE-100 and Paris' CAC 40 ended the day slightly higher, up 0.1% at 6,510.6 and up 0.1% at 3,840, respectively.
Italy's financials-heavy index was hit, among others, by share declines at Mediobanca (-1.9%) and UniCredit (-1.5%), while Intesa Sanpaolo ended the day flat.
Other losers included luxury goods maker Salvatore Ferragamo (-4.5%), STMicroelectronics (-4.6%), Fiat (-2.6%) and tyre maker Pirelli (-4.2%) after its 2012 results underwhelmed. Counterbalancing the losses were gainers, including Saipem (+5.4%), helped by a positive report by investment bank Akros after the company reported new contracts in Africa.
Mediaset gained 5.1% as some investors had to buy shares to close short positions. Meanwhile, Telecom Italia posted a 2.9% gain on hopes the company would soon announced a deal with unions which would allow it to shed some employees.
Meanwhile the spread between the country's 10-year government bonds and their German equivalent - a key indicator of investors' confidence in the Italian economy - remained at 312 basis points, unchanged with respect to Monday's close.