European stock markets mostly rose Thursday, with the British banking sector in focus after RBS posted fresh huge losses and Standard Chartered unveiled a boardroom shake-up.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 index gained 0.39 percent to stand at 11,253.45 points in late afternoon deals, boosted by more positive German economic data. In Paris, the CAC 40 edged up 0.09 percent to 4,886.58 points compared with Wednesday's close.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dipped 0.19 percent to 6,921.90 points, as British economic growth for the fourth-quarter of 2014 was confirmed at 0.5 percent.
The FTSE earlier in the week reached a record high, beating the previous summit reached 15 years ago, after the eurozone backed a four-month extension to Greece's financial lifeline.
In foreign exchange activity, the euro dropped to $1.1247 from $1.1360 late in New York on Wednesday.
Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sank 5.41 percent to 381.50 pence in late afternoon deals, after the state-rescued lender said it will end investment banking in the Middle East and Africa and "significantly" reduce its presence in Asia and the United States after a seventh-straight annual loss.
RBS, about 80-percent owned by the British government, said losses after tax totalled £3.47 billion ($5.40 billion, 4.74 billion euros) last year following a £4.0 billion writedown on the retail bank Citizens, part of its US operations.
"There is little doubt that RBS is making progress, with the shares having received some encouragement from the market over the last year, rising 11 percent as compared to a 1.5-percent improvement for the wider FTSE 100," noted Richard J Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
"Even so, with the finished product still some way off and no dividend to encourage investment in the meantime, the general consensus of the shares as a sell is likely to remain intact for now,” he said in a note to clients.
Elsewhere, Standard Chartered shares were up a robust 3.12 percent to 955.20 pence after the Asia-focused bank announced a boardroom shake-up.
Chief executive Peter Sands will step down in June following poor results, job cuts and fines for failing to detect possible money-laundering and will be replaced by JPMorgan investment bank's former co-CEO Bill Winters.
The emerging markets lender added that chairman John Peace will leave during the course of next year, allowing time for Winters to settle into his new role.
- German 'success story' -
In Germany, unemployment fell in February to the lowest level since reunification in 1990 as growth in Europe's biggest economy picks up, official data showed.
Also on Thursday the GfK market research institute GfK calculated that German consumer confidence surged to its highest level in more than 13 years.
ING DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski said the German labour market "is continuing its success story, providing further evidence of strengthening domestic demand."
Wall Street stocks dipped in opening trade Thursday following mixed US economic data. Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.14 percent at 18,198.35 points.
The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.15 percent to 2,110.66, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.04 percent to 4,965.34.
Asian stock markets largely rose on Thursday and Tokyo hit a fresh 15-year high, driven by dip buying after the previous day's fall, while energy shares gained on higher oil prices.