European stocks edged lower on Thursday, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that monetary policy will need to remain accommodative for some time, while markets continued to monitor developments in Ukraine.
During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.25%, France’s CAC 40 edged down 0.10%, while Germany’s DAX slid 0.29%.
On Wednesday, Janet Yellen said the risks of persistently low consumer prices outweighed those of high inflation. She added that the central bank sees room for the U.S. unemployment rate to fall to between 5.2% and 5.6% by the end of 2016. The unemployment rate currently stands at 6.7%.
Elsewhere, investors were eyeing a meeting of the European Union, U.S., Ukraine and Russia, due to take place in Geneva on Thursday.
Financial stocks were mixed, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PAR) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) climbed 0.53% and 0.49%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) slipped 0.21%.
Among peripheral lenders, Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) dropped 0.42% and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) rose 0.37% in Italy, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) edged down 0.11% and 0.15% respectively.
Elsewhere, SAP AG (SAPG.XETRA) plunged 3.07% after the German technology company reported quarterly sales and earnings below analysts' estimates.
Akzo Nobel (AKZO.AMS) added to losses, with shares diving 4.82%, after the specialty chemicals group posted revenue that misses market projections.
In London, FTSE 100 fell 0.22%, weighed by Babcock International Group (BAB.LSE), down 12.10%, after shareholders gave a nearly unanimous approval to the support services firm's proposed takeover of helicopter company Avincis.
Meanwhile, RSA Insurance (RSA.LSE) led gains on the index, with shares surging 2.62% following reports the company is selling its operations in the Baltics and Poland for £300 million.
In the financial sector, stocks were mostly on the downside. HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) edged down 0.28% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) declined 0.60%, while Barclays (BARC.LSE) retreated 0.78%. Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) overperformed on the other hand, up 0.13%.
Mining stocks were also broadly lower, as Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LSE) shed 0.45% and Bhp Billiton (BLT.LSE) tumbled 1.05%, while rivals Rio Tinto (RIO.LSE) and Fresnillo (FRES.LSE) lost 1.18% and 2.63% respectively.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.22% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.21% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.18% slip.
Also Thursday, official data showed that German producer price inflation fell 0.3% in March, confounding expectations for a 0.1% uptick, after a flat reading the previous month.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on initial jobless claims and a report on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.