European stocks close slightly lower as trade war fears weigh on Wall Street

  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally fell 0.15 percent by the close, in what was seen as a choppy trading session. Major bourses finished relatively flat.
  • President Donald Trump is reportedly looking at imposing tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports.
  • On Wednesday, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said monetary policy will remain prudent despite stronger confidence that inflation is moving towards the bank's target.

Equities in Europe finished Wednesday's session slightly lower, as concerns surrounding a potential trade war resurfaced.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally fell 0.15 percent by the close, in what was a choppy trading session. The region's sectors, however, pointed in different directions by the close.

Major bourses closed relatively mixed, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 falling 0.09 percent, and France's CAC 40 slipping 0.18 percent. Germany's DAX rose 0.14 percent.

Stocks in the region fell during the second part of the trading day, as Wall Street came under pressure. Around Europe's close, the Dow Jones industrial average had tumbled 250 points with Boeing shares falling on fears that the U.S. could engage China in a trade war.

Miners hold their ground, but Bpost tanks 22%

Basic resources maintained its gains, finishing the day up almost 1 percent, on the back of strong industrial production data in China. A number of London-listed miners consequently rose, with Antofagasta, Glencore and Anglo American all closing up 1.8 percent or more.

Looking across the European benchmark, Adidas hit to the top of the index, finishing up over 11 percent. Adidas reported lower sales and profit growth expectations for this year but announced a large share buyback on Wednesday.

Prudential was also among the top performing stocks, closing up 5 percent, after announcing that it would demerge M&G Prudential. Inditex showed a net profit increase for its 2017 fiscal year thanks to a strong performance in all stores, causing shares to rise 3.8 percent.

British grocer Morrisons saw its full-year profit rise 11 percent Wednesday, beating analyst expectations. Despite the positive results and news that it would pay a special dividend, shares sank 4.86 percent. Reuters cited investor concern over a fall in free cash flow, as one reason for the drop in shares. Online supermarket rival Ocado fell 3.15 percent.

Bpost tumbled to the bottom of the European benchmark, down 22 percent after its fourth-quarter results missed expectations.

Tariff concerns linger on

Money managers were tracking the latest news from the White House. President Donald Trump is reportedly looking at imposing tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports, according to Reuters. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from his administration, telling reporters that he disagreed with Tillerson on some issues.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Wednesday morning that monetary policy will remain prudent despite stronger confidence that inflation is moving towards the central bank's target.

In terms of data, industrial production numbers in the euro zone dropped in January by 1 percent month-on-month — more than markets were expecting, mainly due to a lower energy output.

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