Equity markets struggle in early trading

Equity markets in Europe have fallen slightly in early trading with Germany’s Dax, the French Cac 40 and the FTSE Eurofirst 300 all moving lower.

The UK’s FTSE 100 was the only bright spot with a small 0.1 per cent increase to 6,205.03, while the Dax slipped 0.3 per cent and the FTSE Eurofirst 300 dropped 0.2 per cent by 8.40am. France’s Cac 40 was also 0.1 per cent lower.

It follows a mixed picture in Asia where Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed 0.2 per cent lower while Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.28 per cent before the close, in spite of revealing a provisional trade deficit of ¥6.9trn (£48.9bn) for 2012.

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Data from the latest HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index was better than expected, reaching a two-year high of 51.9 as it recorded an increase for the fifth consecutive month.

However, this wasn’t enough to keep the Shanghai Composite Index positive, as it closed the day’s trading 0.8 per cent lower.