European stock markets mostly dipped Thursday as more disappointing Chinese data weighed on the global economic outlook, while closer to home investors awaited a deadline in Greece's debt stand-off.
Frankfurt's benchmark DAX 30 index slid 1.14 percent to stand at 11,731.57 points in midday deals, with the market brushing off data showing that consumer confidence in Germany is at its highest since late 2001.
The CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.79 percent to 5,169.77 after a key survey showed growth in business activity in France's private sector slowed in April, amid signs that the eurozone's second-biggest economy was on the verge of stalling.
London's FTSE 100 edged up 0.09 percent to 7,034.22 points, with dealers reacting to a drop in British retail sales numbers and official data showing the British government beat its deficit-reduction target before next month's general election.
The euro rose to $1.0737 from $1.0725 late in New York on Wednesday.
"European stocks are sharply lower... as investors react to fresh signs of a slowdown in the global economic recovery," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at trading group Forex.com.
"In recent weeks, data from the world’s largest economies -- the US and China, in particular -- have generally been disappointing. This trend continued for China overnight."
HSBC said its preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) of manufacturing activity in China had slipped to a 12-month low in April, the latest data to show the world's number two economy slowing.
The reading of 49.2 is down from the 49.6 seen in March, and well below the 50 break-even point that separates growth from expansion.
But Asian stock markets mostly rose Thursday on hopes for further Chinese stimulus in reaction to the data, analysts said.
The PMI by Markit Economics for the French private sector dropped to 50.2 points in April from 51.5 points the month before, data showed Thursday.
Markets were looking ahead to Friday when eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Latvia's capital Riga.
With Greek government coffers rapidly emptying, analysts warn Athens may have only weeks left before defaulting and possibly exiting the euro unless it reaches a deal with the EU and IMF to unlock 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout loans.
"Greek default fears are back at the forefront of traders’ minds," said David Madden, market analyst at IG traders.
"Greece is getting used to entering crisis talks and the Syriza party seem all too happy to be haggling with creditors, but the equity markets haven't got the stomach for it."