European shares edge lower; earnings, econ data in focus
LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - European shares opened slightly lower on Thursday, with investor attention dominated by a raft of mixed company earnings and economic data that appeared unlikely to dispel worries about the eurozone's pace of recovery.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 slipped 0.2 percent in early trade, to 1,372.80 points, with benchmark indexes in France, Germany and the UK down 0.3 to 0.6 percent.
An early batch of second-quarter company results pointed to a mixed performance for European firms: shares of consumer goods group Unilever were down more than 1.7 percent after a lower-than-expected increase in quarterly sales, while Germany's BASF also fell on earnings disappointment.
However, telecoms gear maker Nokia surged 7.4 percent after the profit margins of its core networks came in better than expected, improving the full-year outlook for the firm.
Eurozone Markit PMI data was also expected later on Thursday, with initial figures from France showing a fall in manufacturing PMI to a seven-month low of 47.6 even as services PMI rose to a three-month high.
"The preliminary manufacturing and services PMI data for France was mixed this morning, which has pushed the equity markets lower," said Naeem Aslam, analyst at AvaTrade. (Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Alistair Smout)
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