The broad-based major European indices closed lower in Thursday trading, led lower by automotive, mining and bank stocks.

In economic news, global headwinds continue to weigh on euro area growth developments, said the European Central Bank said in an economic bulletin.

“The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook remain tilted to the downside, on account of the persistence of uncertainties related to geopolitical factors, the threat of protectionism and vulnerabilities in emerging markets,” said the Bank. “At the same time, further employment gains and rising wages continue to underpin the resilience of the domestic economy and gradually rising inflation pressures.”

The ECB said that survey indicators of global economic activity have weakened in Q1 as global trade has continued to slow down amid heightened trade tensions, and the turning of the global industrial cycle. It also said global inflation has subsided in the first months of the year, mainly due to a lower contribution from energy.

Meanwhile Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, reported that the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the European Union (EU) in 2018 was 73.2%, up from 72.2% in 2017. The Europe 2020 strategy target is to reach a total employment rate for people aged 20 to 64 of at least 75% in the EU by 2020.

Eurostat said there has been an upward trend in the employment rate for men and women. The employment rate for men hit 79.0% in 2018, and has increased steadily since 2013, while for women, the employment rate has continuously risen since 2010 to reach 67.4% in 2018. The employment rate of people aged 55 to 64 in the EU has grown steadily, to 58.7% in 2018 from 38.4% in 2002.

In the UK, low-income households saw sharper rises in their prices and costs than high-income households, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Poorer households, which represented by the second income decile, saw average annual price rises of 2.6%, while richer households, represented by the ninth income decile, saw annual average price rises of 2.2%.

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The ONS said retired households experienced stronger rises in their prices and costs than non-retired households, with price rises for retired households averaging 2.7% per year, compared with 2.3% for non-retired households. However, the disposable income received by retired households has grown considerably more than the disposable income received by non-retired households.

In Germany, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reports that price-adjusted new orders in the main construction industry in February decreased a seasonally and working-day adjusted 2.0% on January 2018. In building construction and civil and underground engineering, in establishments of enterprises with 20 or more persons, new orders increased 8.2% in nominal terms compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.

And in Spain, the annual variation rate of the industrial prices was 2.4% in March, seven-tenths higher than the one registered in previous month, according to the Spanish Statistical Institute (INE). The monthly rate of the industrial price index is -0.2%.

In equities, home builders weighed down the FTSE in London led by Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, and Barratt Developments, which dropped 5.4%, 2.6%, and 2.4% respectively. Mining stocks also moved lower as Glencore, Antofagasta, and Anglo American fell 3.8%, 2.9%, and 2.2% respectively. Financial services firm Legal & General, and supermarket operator Sainsbury were down 4.9%, and 4.7%, while banks Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland were off 3.6% and 2.6%.

In Frankfurt, internet company Wirecard led the DAX lower falling 3.7%, followed by tire maker Continental, and Deutsche Bank, which lost 1.6% and 1.5% respectively. Adhesives manufacturer Covestro, and health care company Fresenius dropped 1.4% each, while automakers Volkswagen and Daimler each closed 1.3% lower.

And in Paris, automotive stocks burdened the CAC as automakers Peugeot and Renault were off 3.1% and 1.6% respectively, while auto parts supplier Valeo dropped 1.2%. Steel and mining company ArcelorMittal, and semiconductor company STMicroelectronics lost 1.8% and 1.7%, while construction company Vinci, public relations firm Publicis Groupe, and construction materials supplier Saint-Gobain each closed 1.3% lower.

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