Cypriot lawmakers were scrambling to thrash out a deal in order to get access to an economy-saving capital injection from the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, after the near collapse of the country's financial system.

No deal by the deadline means no help, and may result in Cyprus exiting the eurozone.

Also in the eurozone, grim private industry figures suggest the single currency area's decline is set to continue into the second quarter. France is faring particularly badly.

Elsewhere, UK retail sales pulled out one of the best set of readings in months for the beleaguered High Street during February, giving sterling a boost a day after Chancellor George Osborne delivered his "fiscally neutral" Budget for 2013.