European bourses were trading slightly lower at open Friday on heels of disappointing German trade data. Investors were also eyeing a report on U.S. jobs due later in the day, to get further cues on the Federal Reserve's tapering plans.
Data released today showed German trade surplus contracted unexpectedly to 14.5 billion euros in July, from a revised reading of 15.8 billion euros in the prior month.
In other reports, official statistics revealed French consumer confidence improved during August with households becoming more optimistic about their future income.
The country's trade deficit, however, widened in July a separate report showed, as exports fell more than imports.
Markets were also looking for further signs as to when the U.S. Federal Reserve could start scaling back its monthly bond purchase program. The central bank had earlier hinted an early exit of its monetary stimulus measures if the U.S. economy and the labour market continued to show signs of improvement.
Meanwhile, leaders of the world's top economies at a Group 20 summit in Russia discussed threats to the global economy in case of an abrupt exit of the Fed's quantitative easing program. The Syrian issue was also raised by some members as Chinese and Italian delegates said a military intervention in Syria could further harm the global economy.
Stocks on the Move
Financials were listless -- French lenders Societe Generale SA and Credit Agricole SA slipped around 0.5% each while German banking giant Commerzbank AG lost over 1%.
London-listed Lloyds Banking Group Plc. gave up 0.7% while Barclays Plc. pulled back around 0.2%.
Among miners, Anglo American Plc. fell 1.3%, BHP Billiton Plc. shed 0.9% and Rio Tinto was down 0.5%.
French consumer goods companies, however, were on the upside; albeit with slim gains. Danone SA moved up 0.2% while retailing giant Carrefour SA gained 0.2% as well on heels of upbeat consumer confidence data.
French luxury group Kerring lost 0.7% after the owner of Gucci brand said it has acquired a minority stake in U.S. based Altuzarra fashion label.