Europe ends lower as Greece deadline approaches

Europe ends lower as Greece deadline approaches
Europe ends lower as Greece deadline approaches   

European equities ended lower on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers in Brussels to discuss a solution to Greece's debt debacle.

The pan-European Europe Stoxx 600 closed around 0.3 percent lower as investors stayed cautious amid the uncertainty surrounding the crucial meeting.

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In Brussels, Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is expected to unveil new reform proposals to make up for the ones that the new Greek government wants to scrap. He is also expected to ask for a "bridge program" to cover the government's funding needs while a new debt pact is agreed.

Wednesday's meeting will also address a reduction of Greece's primary surplus and a humanitarian aid plan to help Greeks.

U.S. stocks opened mostly lower on Wednesday as investors focused on developments in Greece's negotiations with the euro zone finance ministers.

Athens stock exchange finished down around 4 percent ahead of the meeting.

Forcing a Grexit resolves nothing: Strategist
Forcing a Grexit resolves nothing: Strategist   

In individual stocks news, the best performer on the FTSE 100 was semiconductor and software design company ARM, which closed up over 3 percent after it reported a 25 percent rise in fourth-quarter pre-tax profit.

BT's shares finished up around 3.7 percent, while shares of Sky were down as much 3.8 percent as investors reacted to news that the two companies paid a record £5.136 billion ($7.7 billion) for live Premier League TV soccer rights for three seasons.

Sky paid more money to show certain high-profile soccer games, however.

Reckitt Benckiser was also one of the best performers on the index, up 3.3 percent, after the consumer goods maker announced a cost-cutting plan and reported a four percent rise in like-for-like sales in 2014.

Thomas Cook shares closed down 5.5 percent after the leisure tourism group reported tougher trading conditions in Europe in the first quarter.

Brent crude oil slipped below $55 a barrel on Wednesday, pressured by an industry report saying U.S. crude inventories had risen from a record high.

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