European markets close mixed; tech stocks rise on Apple report

European markets closed mixed Tuesday afternoon as investors digested data out of the euro zone and China, and monitored developments from Apple.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 0.38% lower, despite a positive open, with most sectors trading in the red.

It comes after the the U.S.’s Dow Jones Industrial Average also slipped on Tuesday, as the market took a breather following its best August performance since the 1980s. The S&P was trading flat and the Nasdaq Composite bucked the trend to rise by 0.5%. 

Looking at individual stocks, European chipmakers got a boost from a report that Apple plans to make 75 million 5G iPhones ahead of their launch later this year. Apple suppliers Dialog Semiconductor, Infineon, STMicro and ASML all rose more than 1%. The wider sector was up by 1.2% by the close.

On the data front, figures from China showed manufacturing activity in the world’s second-largest economy expanded at its fastest rate in nearly 10 years. China’s Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the month of August came in at 53.1. PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that signal contraction. The reading beat expectations and prompted China’s onshore yuan to strengthen against the U.S. dollar, last trading at 6.8213.

In Europe, inflation data for the euro zone came in well below expectations, raising speculation that the European Central Bank will have to act sooner rather than later. Annual headline inflation is expected to come in at -0.2% in August, down from 0.4% in July. Separate figures for the region also zone revealed that the unemployment rate rose once again, to 7.9% for the month of July.

AstraZeneca shares slipped on Tuesday afternoon, giving up early gains, despite news that it had expanded an agreement with Oxford Biomedica to produce its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

— CNBC’s Huileng Tan contributed to this report.