European markets were lower Friday as global investors digested recent record highs and the prospect of the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.46 percent lower with most sectors trading in negative territory. Media stocks became the worst performers in mid-morning deals, down by 1.3 percent on earnings news.
WPP, the world’s largest ad firm, moved lower by nearly 6 percent in early trade after announcing a “conservative” outlook for 2017. But at the bottom of the European benchmark was the British provider of textile maintenance Berendsen, down by more than 16 percent, after disappointing earnings results.
Elsewhere, digital security firm Gemalto topped regional benchmarks after presenting its latest results. It jumped 6 percent in mid-morning deals. WH Smith jumped nearly 3 percent after an analyst upgrade from Barclays.
Meanwhile, global investors will be looking out for details from Janet Yellen, the chair of the Fed, who is due to speak later this Friday, immediately after the European session closes. Recent comments from Fed members have suggested that a March rate hike is a possibility, meaning a further move away from the accommodative policy of recent years.
In terms of data, the euro zone composite PMI for February was unrevised at 56.0, up from 54.4 in January. However, retail sales data for the bloc showed a decline of 0.1 percent on the month.