European markets ended sharply lower on Wednesday as investors awaited the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting last month and oil prices tumbled after U.S. EIA reported an unexpected rise in crude stockpiles.
The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down around 1.7 percent during the afternoon, with all major bourses down in excess of 1.5 percent.
U.S. stocks traded sharply lower on Wednesday after a wild trading session in China sent other Asian markets down and as Wall Street awaited the release of the Federal Reserve's July meeting minutes.
Oil prices extended losses, falling to a new 6½-year low on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported an unexpected rise in crude stockpiles.
Crude inventories rose by 2.6 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts' expectations for an decrease of 777,000 barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 326,000 barrels, EIA said.
Meanwhile, investors were also focusing on minutes from the Fed's July meeting, which will be released later on Wednesday, with markets hoping to gain insight into the possible timing of a future interest rate hike.
Back in Europe, Germany's Bundestag, its lower house of parliament, voted in favor of a Greek bailout on Wednesday. A total of 454 German lawmakers were voted for the Greek bailout, 113 voted against, while 18 abstained.
Lonmin crashed a further 14.4 percent, with the platinum producer under relentless pressure amid mounting speculation that it could go to the market to raise capital via a rights issue.
At the other end of the Stoxx 600, Austria's Raiffaisen Bank reported market-beating second quarter profit which sent shares in the lender up as much as 8.9 percent.
In Asia, there were substantial falls in Chinese stock markets on Wednesday, as fears about the country's economy continued to perturb investors. However, markets resurfaced in the final hour of trading, with the Shanghai Composite cutting its losses from as low as 4.3 percent down, to rise 1.1 percent.