Europe markets closed lower Tuesday afternoon, despite investors monitoring the progress of a long-anticipated and market-friendly U.S. tax overhaul which appears highly likely to pass this week.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed lower by almost half of a percent, with all sectors bar travel and leisure in the red.
Europe's travel and leisure stocks surged past other sectors Tuesday afternoon, closing the day's trading up 0.79 percent. Carnival's stock rose to near the top of the sector after the world's largest cruise operator reported better-than-expected fourth quarter results. Ryanair also did well Tuesday, after the Irish Independent reported that senior executives at the airline told pilots they were working to restore trust in the company. The budget airline's shares closed 2.33 percent higher, though they had pared back from highs of over 5 percent earlier in the session. Easyjet topped the sector, up over 2.8 percent.
Looking at individual stocks, Dialog Semionductor finished over 8 percent higher on Tuesday afternoon after Chinese state-owned chipmaker Tsinghua raised its stake in the company to 9 percent. Tsinghua has added to its stake in the Apple supplier after reports surfaced in November saying the company might soon lose its top customer.
Old Mutual was also trading near the top of the Stoxx 600 after the firm announced Tuesday it would sell its U.K. wealth business to private equity firm TA Associates for £600 million ($803 million). Shares of the Anglo-South African financial services group closed 2.7 percent higher.
Steinhoff foundered at the bottom of the Stoxx 600 index, closing over 20 percent lower as the South African retailer struggled with an ongoing scandal over financial irregularities.
Meanwhile, Intrum Justitia slumped to near the bottom of the benchmark amid reports the company's CEO, Erik Forsberg, would soon leave the company. The Swedish debt collection firm slipped over 7.5 percent lower on the news.
Signature tax overhaul
Stateside, U.S. equities fell after a higher open. Apple dragged the technology sector lower following news that Nomura Instinet had downgraded the Silicon Valley firm's stock to "neutral" from a "buy".
In recent weeks, global markets have fluctuated in response to mixed expectations about President Donald Trump's ability to push through a signature tax overhaul. On Monday, Wall Street surged to fresh record highs as the Republicans' tax bill appeared to move closer to passage through Congress.
The proposed U.S. tax legislation would slash corporate tax rates to 21 percent, down from 35 percent, with investors betting this will boost company profits and trigger share buybacks.