European shares recouped most of their earlier losses to end flat near 4-1/2-year highs on Wednesday, after robust U.S. retail sales data pointed to a continued recovery in the world's biggest economy.
Italy sold four different bonds, including three- and 15-year paper.
"For an important auction of longer-dated paper, this does not inspire confidence," Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy said in a research note.
"The political stalemate in Rome is denting sentiment towards Italian debt, albeit in a fairly muted manner. There's still a disconnect between the severity of Italy's political and economic crisis and the continued resilience of its bond market."