Global stocks mixed ahead of Easter break

A banner for the online image board Pinterest Inc. at the New York Stock Exchange as shares surge in the company's debut session

Global stocks finished mixed on Thursday as investors wound down their positions before the Easter break, with strong US retail sales data and mostly solid earnings lifting Wall Street modestly.

US retail sales rose 1.6 percent in March, handily beating expectations, due in part to robust auto sales.

There was also a batch of generally positive earnings reports from American Express, Honeywell International and others.

Analysts now project that companies in the S&P 500 will report a 2.3 percent decline in earnings-per-share in the first quarter, a bit better than the 2.7 percent drop seen on the eve of the reporting season, according to CFRA Research.

"There were lowered expectations of profitability, so businesses are doing a little better than expected," said Brian Battle, a director at Performance Trust Capital Partners.

"The market has rallied a really long way," he added. "We need more good news to push higher from here."

The S&P 500 finished the session at 2,905.03, up 0.2 percent for the day but down a hair for the week.

The euro meanwhile slid versus the dollar as data showed business growth in the eurozone had hit the lowest level since 2014 on German sluggishness and stagnation in France.

The single currency's drop helped support eurozone exporters, pushing up overall stock market values in the region.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 index closed up 0.6 percent and the Paris CAC 40 won 0.4 percent on the day.

Outside the eurozone, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index lost 0.2 percent, despite stronger-than-expected British retail sales figures.

Beset by looming political risks such as Brexit and weaker global growth, the eurozone is struggling to keep the economy growing at a healthy pace, a survey from data firm IHS Markit showed.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, two new technology companies made successful market debuts following initial public offerings.

The San Francisco-based visual discovery service Pinterest surged 28.4 percent in its first session after an initial public offering raised $1.4 billion.

Videoconferencing startup Zoom shot up 72.2 percent after its IPO raised more than $350 million.

- Key figures around 2040 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 26,559.54 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 2,905.03 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP less than 0.1 percent at 7,998.06 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,459.88 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 12,222.39 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,580.338 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,499.23 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8 percent at 22,090.12 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 29,963.26 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,250.20 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1231 from $1.1296 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2985 from $1.3043

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.00 yen from 112.06 yen

Oil - Brent Crude: UP 35 cents at $71.97 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 24 cents at $64.00 per barrel