European equities closed lower on Wednesday for a third-straight day, after better-than-expected jobs data from the U.S. increased concerns that the Federal Reserve would "taper" its bond-buying program sooner rather than later.
Banking stocks hit
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed down 0.6 percent at 1,273.47 points.
Selling accelerated after the first of several U.S. economic indicators, which could give an idea as to how Friday's non-farm payrolls number will read, and how quickly the Federal Reserve will start cutting stimulus.
The ADP (Automatic Data Processing) employment report showed 215,000 jobs were created in the U.S. in November. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that only 173,000 private sector jobs would be created.
(Read More: Private job creation jumps, way above expectations)
Meanwhile, bank stocks saw a sell-off of around 1.1 percent. Some of the world's biggest banks were hit with a 1.7 billion euro ($2.3 billion) fine for interest rate-rigging by traders on Wednesday, the largest fine ever imposed by the European Commission (EC).
The banks fined were Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan, and Societe Generale. Deutsche has to pay the biggest fine for conspiring to rig rates, with a 725 million euro bill. RBS must pay a total of 391 million euros.
(Read More: Banks hit with $2.3 billion rate-rigging fine)
On Wednesday, the second estimate for the euro zone's third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) confirmed the euro zone economy had grown just 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter.
Services purchasing managers index (PMI) data were released giving a mixed picture. Figures for Italy were below initial estimates at 47.2, France's were also below estimates, with a contraction at 48.0. However, Germany's wereabove expectations with a figure of 55.7, as was the euro zone number overall.
Thursday's upcoming European Central Bank's (ECB) meeting was also in focus, with analysts awaiting the central bank's economic forecasts. If the ECB indicates inflation will remain below target into 2015, it could mean there will be new liquidity measures next year.
Tesco shares higher
In stocks news, FTSE 100-listed supermarket Tesco reported a sharp drop in third-quarter like-for-like sales on Wednesday; shares closed around 0.5 percent lower. The FTSE 100 itself closed provisionally down 0.4 percent.
Standard Chartered, a fellow FTSE 100 component, clocked up a more significant fall, closing down around 6.5 percent after it said this year's income would be similar to last's. it previously reported a slowdown in Asian growth in the past five months.
Also on the FTSE 100, shares of Sage Group surged to close over 7.0 percent higher after the company said it was confident of hitting revenue targets for next year, due to growth in its cloud computing offering.
In France, hotel group Accor received a bounce after being raised to a "buy" from "neutral" by UBS. Its shares closed more than 3.0 percent higher, outperforming the benchmark French Cac-40, which closed provisionally down 0.5 percent.
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