European stock markets wavered Thursday following a bad day for US tech shares as investors remain nervous about surging global inflation and the prospect of rising interest rates.
London's FTSE 100 was down 0.3 percent in afternoon trading, with shares in drug maker GlaxoSmithKline falling two percent after consumer goods giant Unilever said it would not lift its £50-billion bid for the consumer health care unit owned by GSK and Pfizer.
Unilever shares rose on the news.
Paris equities were down 0.3 percent but Frankfurt grinded 0.2 percent higher.
The drops in Europe were "a further sign of the angst in the markets right now that is proving hard to shake off," said OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.
New York's Nasdaq on Wednesday fell into a correction -- a decline of greater than 10 percent from its most recent peak -- as companies traded in the tech-heavy index are more susceptible to higher borrowing costs.
The Nasdaq opened higher on Thursday, rising 0.9 percent in early deals.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 percent while the S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent.
"The key question on investors' minds though will be whether the tech rout is already behind us after a 10 percent drop," Erlam said, adding that "stellar" earnings reports would not be enough.
"The key thing will be whether we see a pause in market interest rate expectations after weeks of aggressively pricing in more hikes and balance sheet reduction," he said.
The inevitable end of the era of ultra-cheap cash -- which helped fuel a near two-year equity rally and economic rebound -- has weighed on global markets for months.
"The recent volatility has been sparked by increased expectations that the Fed is set to get more aggressive amid persistent inflationary pressures," Schwab analysts said in a note.
Investors remain grounded by concerns about the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy plans as it battles soaring inflation, which has been stoked by a cocktail of surging demand, supply chain snarls, rising wages and a spike in energy prices.
Speculation is now growing that the bank will have to lift interest rates four times or more this year.
- China relief -
In Asia, indices rose as investors returned to buying after recent losses, with Chinese property firms enjoying a much-needed lift on fresh easing measures by the country's central bank.
Signs that Beijing was on a new monetary easing course also provided some crucial support to Chinese tech giants which have been hammered in recent months as they were caught in the clutches of a wide-ranging, private-sector clampdown.
The People's Bank of China on Thursday lowered a key bank lending rate for the second time in as many months, days after slashing its policy rate for the first time since the pandemic struck.
In other markets, oil prices fell after a strong run-up this week on the back of expectations for improved demand as economies reopen and as unrest in the crude-rich Middle East sparks supply concerns.
- Key figures around 1430 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,569.17 points
Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.2 percent at 15,837.00
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,154.56
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 4,277.61
New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 35,109.68
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 27,772.93 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 3.4 percent at 24,952.35 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,555.06 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1348 from $1.1343 late Wednesday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3636 from $1.3612
Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.22 pence from 83.33 pence
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.11 yen from 114.33 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $88.17 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $85.70 per barrel