By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
Casino shares slide after earnings
European stocks pared gains on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept interest rates at record lows, but turned more hawkish in its forward guidance.
What are the markets doing?
The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.2% at 373.30, after trading as high as 374.10 ahead of the ECB statement.
Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.3% to 12,204.34, while France's CAC 40 index climbed 0.4% to 5,206.51.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index was up 0.1% at 7,166.26.
The euro erased its earlier loss after the ECB announcement, swinging higher to buy as much as $1.2432 compared with $1.2411 late Wednesday in New York.
What is driving the market?
The jump in the euro and the pull back in equities came as the ECB gave up its pledge to expand or extend quantitative easing if the economy turned sour. In its closely watched policy statement, the bank dropped the line that it would stand "ready to increase the asset purchase programme (APP) in terms of size and/or duration," if the economic outlook became "less favorable."
Traders had been waiting to see if the rate setters would remove that particular bit, as it could indicate the end of QE is moving closer. The ECB did, however, reiterate that the current EUR30-billion-a-month stimulus program will "run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary."
The ECB left its refinancing rate at 0% , while the rate paid on deposits parked overnight at the bank was left at negative 0.4% and the rate on the deposit facility was left at 0.25%.
Attention now turns to ECB President Mario Draghi's news conference at 1:30 p.m. London time, or 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
European stocks had opened in positive territory as tensions over the planned U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports eased after comments from the White House that major trading partners Canada and Mexico could be exempt. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the tariff order on Thursday, with an announcement planned for 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, according to media reports .
Which stocks are in focus?
Shares of JCDecaux slid 3.1% after the outdoor advertising company said profit slumped 14% on 2017 .
Casino Guichard-Perrachon fell 5.2% after the French retailer posted a sharp drop in 2017 profit .
Shares of Hugo Boss lost 6.3% even after the German fashion company said it would raise its 2017 dividend after net profit rose in the full year.
Aviva PLC dropped 0.7% after reporting a 2% rise in 2017 adjusted operating profit .
What's new in economics?
German manufacturing orders fell more than expected in January, dropping 3.9%, compared with forecasts of a 1.5% decline.
In France, the Bank of France said the country's economy is likely to expand by 0.4% in the first quarter , down from 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2017.