By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets were on track to break a five-day winning streak on Thursday, after data showing the euro zone exited recession sent the region's benchmark index to a more-than-two-month high in the prior day's trade.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index slid 0.5% to 306.94. On Wednesday, the index closed at the highest level since May 22, setting it just 0.6% shy of its 52-week high.
Drug makers added the most pressure on the benchmark after a round of ratings changes. Shares of AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) lost 2% after Morgan Stanley cut the pharma firm to underweight from equal weight. GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) got the same treatment, its shared dropping 0.5%.
Among other notable decliners, shares of Zurich Insurance Group AG lost 3.1% after the company reported a 27% decline in second-quarter income. The firm said the flooding in Eastern and Central Europe, and U.S. tornadoes weighed on earnings.
Hennes & Mauritz AB gave up 0.9% after the Swedish fashion retailer posted a 1% fall in comparable sales in July.
The overall negative sentiment in Europe came on the back of weak trading sessions in Asia and the U.S., with worries about the timing and pace of potential reductions in the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond purchases upsetting the markets.
U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street.
In Europe, most country-specific indexes also declined, a day after investors celebrated the end of the six-quarter-long recession for the euro zone. Data showed on Wednesday that the currency bloc's economy grew 0.3% in the second quarter, a notch better than expected, fueling hopes of a recovery. Read: Euro-zone GDP: Time to pop the champagne?
Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.5% to 8,396.80 on Thursday, while France's CAC 40 index slipped 0.2% to 4,106.74.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index dropped 0.4% to 6,559.94.
-Sara Sjolin; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
08-15-13 0423ETCopyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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