- The pan-European STOXX 600 finished down 0.05 percent provisionally, while major bourses and sectors finished mixed
- Earnings continued to shake up sentiment in Europe, with the retail sector getting a boost from individual stock news
European stocks ended under slight pressure on Wednesday as investors digested the latest coming out of the earnings space.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 came off its session lows to finish down 0.05 percent provisionally, while sectors pointed in opposite directions by the close.
Financials and banking stocks underperformed several sectors Wednesday, on earnings and doubts over U.S. plans to reform the tax system. French bank Credit Agricole fell over 3 percent after posting lower net profits. Italy's BPM meanwhile sank 7.5 percent, after it was halted during early morning trading, Reuters reported.
Elsewhere, the European Union put forward tougher car emissions objectives Wednesday, which included a credit system for automakers to push the rollout of electric vehicles and fines for exceeding carbon dioxide limits; Reuters reported. Autos sank 1.31 percent, making it Europe's worst performing sector of the day.
Utility stocks fluctuated during trade, before recovering to close up. Investors showed concern during the session over regulation on a proposed merger between the British firm SSE and Innogy. They announced earlier that they would merge their British retail energy business. SSE fell to the bottom of the index, while Innogy finished higher.
Marks & Spencer closed up 1.6 percent after announcing pretax profits slightly above forecasts, though lower from a year ago. The clothing and homeware arm of the British brand struggled, but its food and international business grew.
Retail as a whole outshone with Ahold Delhaize rising 5.1 percent, after third-quarter earnings beat estimates. Carrefour also jumped 3.15 percent.
Europe's best performer however was Ubisoft, which rose over 9 percent, after posting second-quarter sales above forecasts.
Persimmon meantime dropped 3.5 percent, though the housebuilder said that forward sales beyond 2017 were up 10 percent and it had sold all of its stock for the current year. The British firm acquired more than 5,500 new plots in the third quarter of the year.
Pharmaceutical company Lundbeck sank more than 7 percent, after it posted its latest earnings report. While third quarter operating profit exceeded market expectations, sales of its more recent drugs failed to meet forecasts.
More broadly, investors will monitor developments in Saudi Arabia where an anti-corruption crackdown has led to several arrests of top officials. On Monday, the Kingdom also accused Iran of being behind a ballistic missile attack carried out in Yemen, sparking tensions in the region.
Elsewhere, President Donald Trump told North Korea to avoid making a "fatal miscalculation." The message was delivered as the president continues with his 12-day trip to Asia.
Speaking of, U.S. stocks traded under slight pressure at Europe's close, as investors look back at the last 365 days since the 2016 U.S. election.