European stock exchanges closed higher on Thursday.
Retail sales in the United States were reported to have slipped 0.1% in February from the previous month, but the spending patterns were better than expected, with most of the drop linked to auto sales.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally closed 0.5% higher at 696.07 points. But the index is still down 16% to date this year.
In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 3956.22 points, up 42.12 or 1.08%.
In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 2694.25 points, up 20.05 or 0.75%.
The Swiss market index closed at 4645.78 points, up 68.81 or 1.5%.
In Milan, the All Share Mibtel index closed at 11414 points, up 239 or 2.14%.
In London, the FTSE 100 index ended up 18.25 points, or 0.5%, at 3,712.06. The index is down over 16% to date this year, but has gained 5.1% so far this week.
In Japan, the Nikkei shed 177.87 points, 2.4%, in moderate trade to 7,198.25. The index gained 4.6% on Wednesday.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ended 70.87 points higher, 0.6%, at 12,001.53.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 8.9 points to 3,235.5. The All Ordinaries index dipped 8.7 points, or 0.27% to 3190.4.
On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the March share price index futures contract was 18 points higher at 3247 on a volume of 23,506 contracts.
The NZX50 index closed down 6 points at 2491.
Telecom closed down 3c to $2.35. Contact Energy gained 4c to $5.60. Fletcher Building gained 5c to $5.31.
The Warehouse lost 7c after posting its half-year profit. Sky City closed unchanged at $2.66. Infratil lost 3c to close at $1.52.