European stock markets closed mostly in negative territory on Wednesday as traders cashed in recent gains and chewed over mixed eurozone inflation figures. London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies finished 0.45 percent lower at 6,481.5 points. Elsewhere, Frankfurt's DAX 30 ended the day more or less flat, adding a modest 0.06 percent to end at 7,970.91 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 closed 0.10 percent lower, at 3,836.04 points. In Madrid the Ibex 35 was off by 0.43 percent, ending at 8,495.20 points, and in Milan the FTSE Mib closed down by 1.74 percent at 15,745 points. In foreign exchange activity, the euro slid to $1.2951 from $1.3035 late on Tuesday in New York. Gold prices decreased to $1,589.25 an ounce on the London Bullion Market from $1,594. In New York, US stocks rose in midday trade thanks in part to a strong report on retail sales in February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 0.14 percent, the broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.17 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lifted by 0.13 percent. US retail sales picked up sharply despite a payroll tax hike, driven largely by a surge in gasoline prices, government data showed. Retail and food services sales rose 1.1 percent from January, the Commerce Department reported, much stronger than the 0.5 percent increase estimated by analysts. Back in London meanwhile, stocks were pulled lower by a number of companies going ex-dividend, which means that the stock no longer carries the right to the most recently declared dividend. "The FTSE 100 is... weighed down by ex-dividend stocks and a general lack of market-moving events," said analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading group IG. Asian markets had mostly fallen earlier on Wednesday, with few catalysts to drive buying after recent gains, while Wall Street had provided a limp lead. "Despite strong employment numbers from the US last week, markets have been unable to muster much enthusiasm for another push higher," said Beauchamp. "However, the underlying theme of the year has been that each dip has been the signal for a new round of buying, especially when central bank support is taken into account," he added. Investor sentiment was meanwhile hit by worrying monthly inflation data which showed a growing gap between eurozone member nations. "CPI data out of Europe this morning gave traders cause to take their foot off the gas, as the widening gap in data between constituent eurozone members was drawn back into focus," said CMC Markets analyst Matt Basi. Official data shows that in February, inflation reached an annualised 1.0 percent in France but soared to 2.9 percent in Spain. That contrasted with a rate of 1.5 percent in Germany. "The conflicting backdrops make blanket monetary policy an impossible balancing act - particular given the disparity in growth forecasts between Germany and their poorer continental cousins," added Basi. However, Spanish inflation data was partly skewed by a sales tax hike that was implemented in September last year as part of austerity measures. In company earnings news on Wednesday, British insurance giant Prudential announced that net profits surged 55 percent last year, as it was lifted by solid growth in key market Asia, and ramped up its full-year shareholder dividend by 15.9 percent to 29.19 pence per share. Investors applauded the news and Prudential shares closed 9.33 percent higher at 1,125 pence on the London Stock Exchange. In Germany, Commerzbank announced it would carry out a 2.5-billion-euro ($3.3-billion) capital hike to pay back state bailouts received during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The news sent shares in Germany's second-largest bank plunging, ending down 9.72 percent, at 1.26 euros.