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European stock markets closed sharply lower on Wednesday, as investors pondered the state of China's economy, global markets and when the U.S. Federal Reserve might raise interest rates.
The pan-European STOXX 600 accelerated losses to finish 1.7 percent lower, with all major sectors and bourses closing in the red.
One index that managed some slight gains was the Athens Composite, which closed higher by nearly 0.2 percent.
Markets in China see-sawed on Wednesday, with investors unconvinced by action from the central bank designed to stimulate the economy. The Shanghai Composite veering between positive and negative territory throughout the day before closing down 1.3 percent.
The Peoples' Bank of China announced a double-barrel of easing on Tuesday, lowering both interest rates and the reserve requirement ratio for banks. On Wednesday, it then pumped 140 billion yuan ($21.8 billion) into the economy via a short-term liquidity operation.
In Europe, Peter Praet, chief economist at the European Central Bank, said that the central bank would beef up monetary stimulus if necessary, given pressure on inflation from the slowdown in China and falling commodity prices.
Monsanto's $47 billion bid to buy Swiss rival Syngenta fell through, the U.S. company announced Wednesday. Consequently, shares in Syngenta plummeted to closed around 18 percent lower, at the bottom of the STOXX 600 index.
In the gambling world, Britain's Betfair and Irish rival Paddy Power said they had "reached an agreement in principle on the key terms " of a merger.
Paddy Power also reported first-half operating profit up 33 percent. Shares in Betfair and Paddy Power rocketed, with each stock closing around 20 percent higher.
Advertising giant WPP reported first-half like-for-like net sales up 2.3 percent and reiterated its target for full-year revenue and net sales growth. Despite this, shares in the company closed 3.7 percent lower.