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European markets: Spanish stocks, data in focus

IBEX 35 ---

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.17 percent lower with most sectors trading in negative territory. Construction and material stocks were the worst-performing sectors in early trading following news that the CEO of Assa Abloy is considering stepping down. The Swedish stock fell nearly 5 percent as a result and hit the bottom of the European benchmark.

Meanwhile, utility stocks recovered some losses from the previous session as traders shift their focus from caps on energy bills to growth prospects. EDF rose nearly 3 percent after a rating upgrade on supportive regulation and higher carbon prices. The stock led the gains across the European benchmark.

Auto stocks traded marginally higher ahead of new car sales figures out for the U.K. due at 9 a.m. London time.

Spanish stocks fell at the open on Thursday but have recovered slightly since then. The stock market has seen a significant sell-off since the start of the week on political concerns. The regional government of Catalonia said they will declare independence from Spain on Monday. The national government has asked the region to return to the path of law, according to Reuters.