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European markets close lower on North Korea jitters; Stoxx 600 down 1%; euro rises to $1.20

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that a ballistic missile that was fired by North Korea had passed over Japan. Abe has since stated that the missile posed a grave threat to the country of Japan.
  • Miners close higher on geopolitical concerns. Randgold and Fresnillo were at the top of the European benchmark up by about 4.5 and 2.5 percent respectively.
  • German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 hit the bottom of the Stoxx 600 down by 14 percent

European markets closed lower Tuesday as geopolitical concerns surrounding North Korea raised fresh jitters across global markets.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day down by 1.06 percent, with all sectors trading in negative territory. Eleven of eighteen sectors were trading down by a percent or more.

Media and insurance stocks were the worst-performing sectors on fresh concerns over escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States.

On Tuesday, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that a ballistic missile that was fired by North Korea had passed over Japan. Abe has since stated that the missile posed a grave threat to the country of Japan, and that he would ask the United Nations to ramp up the pressure on Pyongyang. The group renewed sanctions against North Korea in early August. Since then the exchange of words and actions between North Korea and the U.S. deteriorated.

As a result, markets worldwide showed signs of nervousness, with investors turning to safe-haven assets. The dollar hit a four-month low against the yen and the euro rose to $1.20 against the dollar for the first time since 2015. U.S. markets initially opened lower, with the Dow Jones on track for its worst month since January 2016, but later pared some losses in morning trade.

"I think it (euro) has moved too far too soon but ultimately it is optimism on European equities that is moving the euro. No one wants the pound and no one wants the dollar," Christopher Peel, Chief Investment Officer, Tavistock Investments, told CNBC on Tuesday.

Miners have also benefited from rising geopolitical concerns. Randgold and Fresnillo ended the day at the top of the European benchmark, up by about 4.5 and 2.5 percent respectively.

Looking at individual stocks, German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 hit the bottom of the European benchmark down by more that 14 percent. The firm warned on Monday that TV advertising revenues in German-language markets are set to decline in the third quarter of this year.

On the earnings front, distribution firm Bunzl published its half yearly financial report for the first six months of 2017. The U.K. based company saw its revenue rise 20 percent in the first half compared to a year ago, hitting £4.1 billion ($5.3 billion). The stock was slightly lower.

French GDP, UK house prices

In terms of data, French consumer spending was reported at 0.7 percent in July, after having fallen the same amount in the previous monthly period, the national statistics office said. At the same time, gross domestic product figures for the second quarter of the year were confirmed at 0.5 percent.

German consumer confidence is set to reach a near-16 year high in September, according to GfK. The company's consumer sentiment indicator, which looks at a survey of around 2,000 Germans, rose to 10.9 going into September, marking the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

The U.K.'s nationwide house prices index showed house prices down by 0.1 percent month-on-month. The yearly growth figure fell 2.1 percent from 2.9 percent in July.

"The moderation in price growth primarily reflects the squeeze on real wages and the slowdown in the pace that mortgage rates are falling," Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a research note.

"Prices likely will continue to struggle to rise much, given that inflation still has further to rise, consumer confidence has deteriorated sharply since June and lenders intend to reduce the supply of unsecured credit," he added.

Brexit round 3

Tuesday also marks the second day of the U.K. and European Union's (EU) third round of Article 50 negotiations, where officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss the future of both regions after Britain exits the bloc.

On Monday, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that he was concerned by how slow the progress had been so far when it came to the negotiations, according to Reuters.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has been calling for flexibility and imagination from the talks so that the groups can focus on their future relationship after Brexit has been completed, however, the EU is pressing more towards solving the key divorce issues first.

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CNBC's Christine Wang contributed to this report.

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