Europe Markets

European stocks close lower on earnings; Fed in focus; Sainsbury's falls 5.5%


European stocks closed lower on Wednesday as investors waited for the U.S. Federal Reserve's statement on its interest rate decision and digested new corporate earnings.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 0.04 percent at the close, with most sectors in negative territory.

The falls were led by basic resources stocks, down 2.5 percent, amid a slide in metal prices. Mining giants Centamin, Antofagasta and Fresnillo were all trading more than 1 percent lower.

Autos, too, were lower, following disappointing earnings news. Tyre maker Nokian dropped more than 5 percent after first-quarter profit missed expectations and analysts believe that the higher cost of raw materials will dent future earnings.

On the other hand, health care stocks moved slightly higher also on earnings. Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk presented first-quarter earnings above forecast. The stock rose nearly 7 percent, hitting the top of the European benchmark.

Looking at individual stocks, food retailer Sainsbury's was lower by 5.7 percent after reporting a fall in pre-tax profits.

Meanwhile, ITV was trading lower after it was announced that the media company's Chief Executive Adam Crozier would be stepping down. His successor has not been named. The stocks was down almost 2 percent.

French bank BNP Paribas was up 0.5 percent having beaten analyst expectations for its first-quarter earnings.

Software house Sage Group also rose 3 percent after reporting an increase in first-half net profit.

In the U.S., markets were lower after weaker-than-expected iPhone sales which brought the Nasdaq composite down from a record high. Investors are also watching for comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve due at 2 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. London time.

Brexit bill

Aside from earnings news, Europe was seen divided after the latest developments in Brexit talks saw France and Germany toughen their stance towards the U.K., claiming that they would expect an upfront gross payment of up to 100 billion euros ($109 billion), according to new reports from the Financial Times. The EU's leading negotiator, Michel Barnier has already dismissed such figures.

Also in France, campaigning for the second round runoff of the presidential race has entered its final days win opponents Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen vying to win crucial final support. The two will face each other Wednesday evening in a head-to-head televised debate.

Meanwhile Stateside, the Federal Reserve will continue its two-day policy meeting, with investors largely expecting the Central Bank to hold interest rates steady, and U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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