Europe's main stock markets have fallen at the start of trading, mirroring a poor performance across Asia, as sentiment was hit by poor Chinese manufacturing data before key Spanish bond auctions.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies on Thursday slid 0.65 per cent to 5,850.46 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 sank 0.92 per cent to 7,322.62 points and in Paris the CAC 40 recoiled 0.86 per cent to 3,501.14.
Madrid's IBEX 35 index dived by 0.96 per cent to 8,023.40 points ahead of the eagerly awaited bond auctions, whose results are due at 1900 AEST.
"All eyes will be on important Spanish bond auctions, constituting a good measure just how worried investors are concerning Spain still not having agreed to a bail-out package," said ETC Capital analyst Markus Huber.
Spain, which is under market pressure to request a financial bailout for its economy, faces a key test of investor confidence on Thursday when it auctions long-term government bonds.
Madrid is seeking to borrow between 3.5 and 4.5 billion euros in three and 10-year bond auctions.
Asian markets meanwhile fell on Thursday on the back of weak Chinese manufacturing concerns, and as enthusiasm evaporated over the Bank of Japan's economic stimulus which had sparked impressive gains on Wednesday.
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