European stocks opened lower on Friday, as comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi continued to weigh and concerns over geopolitical tensions in Irak and Ukraine still dampened risk sentiment.
During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 retreated 0.73%, France’s CAC 40 lost 0.67%, while Germany’s DAX tumbled 1.03%.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank still expects a "moderate" and "uneven" economic recovery in the euro area and acknowledged that there has been a slowing down in growth momentum.
Mr. Draghi also said that interest rates will remain at present levels "for an extended period of time" and reiterated that the bank was still committed to using unconventional measures if the outlook deteriorates.
Elsewhere, U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized air strikes in Iraq to put an end to an onslaught by Islamic militants.
In addition, Moscow banned imports of most food from the West in retaliation against sanctions against it over Ukraine.
Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) tumbled 1.03% and 1.47%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) retreated 0.69%.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) and Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) lost 1.71% and 1.52% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) declined 0.69% and 1.46%.
On the upside, shares in Allianz (XETRA:ALVG) climbed 0.62% after the German insurer said second-quarter profit increased by 11%, thanks to lower natural-disaster claims and higher earnings at the life and health insurance unit.
In London, FTSE 100 dropped 0.68%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts lower.
Shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) slumped 0.56% and Barclays (LONDON:BARC) lost 0.64%, while Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) retreated 0.81%. HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) overperformed however, rising 0.35%.
In the mining sector, stocks were also mostly lower. Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) saw shares edge down 0.15% and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) dropped 0.68%, while Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) slid 0.67%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.50% decline, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.58% drop, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.59% loss.
Also Friday, official data showed that French industrial production rose 1.3% in June, exceeding expectations for a 1.0% gain, after a decline of 1.6% in May, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated 2.3% drop.