LONDON (AP) — Investors took a breather Thursday after a solid run that has seen many of the world's stock markets recoup a large chunk of the losses they suffered this year.
Following a period of turmoil largely due to concerns over emerging economies, the mood across financial markets has become more positive. Many analysts say the recent losses have made stocks ready to rise further in the months ahead.
"This is a completely healthy part of the bull market and most were happy to see it," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.
"With that now behind us though, we need to see new 2014 highs being made or we could see a little unease creep back into the markets as investors question whether it was indeed a small correction or the start of something much bigger," he added.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.7 percent at 6,629 while Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent to 9,506. The CAC-40 in France was 0.4 percent lower at 4,286.
Wall Street was poised for a retreat at the open, following a run of gains that's seen both the Dow and the broader S&P 500 edge back up toward all-time highs — futures markets for both indexes pointed to a 0.5 percent drop at the open.
How markets trade over the rest of the day could hinge on a raft of U.S. economic data later, including January retail sales and weekly jobless claims and the latest Congressional appearance of new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Earlier this week, Yellen confirmed she was happy with the current pace with which the Fed is withdrawing its monetary stimulus and that interest rates would remain low for a while to come.
Ahead of the next run of U.S. economic news, the dollar was faltering. The euro was up 0.5 percent at $1.3660 while the dollar fell the same rate to 102.00 yen.
Earlier in Asia, investor appetite for risks appeared subdued. Japan's Nikkei 225, the region's main index, dropped 1.8 percent to 14,534.74. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5 percent to 22,165.53 while China's Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.6 percent lower at 2,098.40.