RTTNews - The major markets across Europe are poised to open flat to slightly weak on Friday following a sell-off on Wall Street on Thursday. However, commodity prices may help limit losses.

Mixed economic data weighed on the U.S. markets on Thursday. Weekly jobs report released by the U.S. Labor Department for the week ended May 16th showed that first time jobless claims slowed but continuing claims rose further to a new historic high. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's business activity index for the first half of May showed improvement but rose by less than expected, further mitigating risk appetite. However, the forward-looking indicators for April from the Conference Board came in slightly better than expected, raising some economic prospects for the near future.

The Dow closed lower by 129.91 points or 1.54% at 8292, the Nasdaq finished down by 32.59 points or 1.89% at 1695, and the S&P 500 slipped by 15.14 points to 888.

The markets across Asia are also trading in negative territory, mirroring the losses on Wall Street, on concerns about the pace of economic recovery dampened by weak economic data.

The markets in Europe snapped their five-day gains and ended in negative territory on concerns about the pace of economic recovery. Downgrading of the credit outlook for U.K by Standard & Poor's also influenced sentiment, leading to an across the board sell-off in the markets.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 2.09% lower at 857 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index fell 2.05% to 2,099 points. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index dropped 2.75% to 4,345, while France's CAC 40 index fell 2.60% to 3,217 and Germany's DAX index slipped 2.74% to 4,901.

On the economic front, the second estimate for UK GDP is due from the Office for National Statistics. According to the initial estimate, the economy had contracted 1.9% sequentially and 4.1% on an annual basis in the first quarter. The statistical office is expected to confirm the estimate released on April 24.

In corporate news, British Airways may be in focus after it reported a loss for the year ended 31 March 2009 compared to a profit last year. Rolls Royce Group might react to the news of receiving a new contract to supply a newly developed anchor handling system for securing the floating oil platforms off the coast of Brazil.

Novartis AG is likely to react to the news that its experimental respiratory drug improved lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Steel major Arcelor Mittal will be trading without the rights to collect dividend.

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