By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets moved slightly lower on Thursday as investors awaited U.S. jobs and housing data, amid worries over budget wrangling and debt-ceiling negotiations in Washington.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.1% to 312.68, adding to a 0.1% loss from Wednesday.
Shares of Ladbrokes PLC posted the biggest drop in the index, off 9.1%, after the betting firm said 2013 operating profit for its digital division will fall below current market expectations.
"Our digital earnings have been disappointing, reflecting a lack of competitiveness in sportsbook, lower margins than planned and a greater disruptive impact than expected from the transition necessary to grow digital for the long term," Chief Executive Richard Glynn said in a statement.
On a more upbeat note, shares of Hennes & Mauritz AB gained 6.5% after the Swedish fashion retailer reported a 22% rise in third-quarter profit and said sales in China had been particularly strong during the period.
For the broader European stock markets, investors waited for fresh data on the U.S. jobs and housing market, with weekly jobless claims due at 1:30 p.m. in London, or 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, and pending-home sales numbers out at 10 a.m. Eastern. The data will come as U.S. lawmakers struggle to agree on a budget before the new fiscal year begins next week. On Wednesday, the Senate took the first of several procedural votes to enact funding for the fiscal year, agreeing unanimously to debate a bill passed by the House that would remove funding of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the Senate aim to replace that bill with a stopgap measure that will maintain funding.
Additionally, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told legislators that he'll run out of options to avoid hitting or surpassing the debt limit by Oct. 17 or sooner.
U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 index (SPX) recording its longest decline since December. Stock futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday.
Among country-specific indexes in Europe, France's CAC 40 index lost 0.4% to 4,180.60 and Germany's DAX 30 index dropped 0.2% to 8,645.79. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index fell 0.1% to 6,547.00.
-Sara Sjolin; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
09-26-13 0448ETCopyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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