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European stocks edge lower at close of trade; Metro Bank tanks 39% to drag on FTSE

Key Points
  • Trading was cautious in Europe Wednesday amid uncertainty over trade talks between the world's biggest economies, the U.S. and China.
  • Most individual bourses in Europe were traded lower, after a strong start on Wall Street faded.

European stock markets rose then fell on Wednesday, as investors took cues from the whipsaw in U.S. market action.

The pan European Stoxx 600 Index closed provisionally down 0.06 percent on the day. Most individual bourses in Europe were traded lower, after a strong start on Wall Street faded. Before giving up gains, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped over 250 points in morning trade, on the back of strong earnings reports.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

Looking at the corporate space, stocks showed a mixed to positive picture with the retail sector leading the pack, up over 1.5 percent as a whole. France's Carrefour topped Europe's benchmarks after an upbeat earnings report, which saw the retailer express optimism for its strategy plan going forward. Shares jumped nearly 7 percent.

Sticking with the sector, Ahold Delhaize popped over 3 percent after it reported fourth-quarter sales in line with analyst expectations. Elsewhere, Logitech jumped almost 6 percent on Wednesday, after JP Morgan upgraded its rating and price target on the stock.

On the opposite end of the STOXX 600, British lender Metro Bank tanked nearly 39 percent after it cautioned that its growth had softened in the final quarter. The weakness from Metro Bank added pressure to the FTSE 100, which under-performed fellow markets, falling almost 1 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of Deutsche Bank pared losses to trade higher in later trade, despite a report from Bloomberg stating that the U.S. Federal Reserve is investigating the German lender's role in a Danske Bank money laundering scheme. The bank has since responded to this, saying in a statement to Reuters that it's received requests for information from regulators and law enforcement agencies.

Trade talks in focus

Investors continue to be somewhat cautious in Europe amid uncertainty over trade talks between the world's biggest economies, the U.S. and China, after reports emerged that the White House cancelled a trade planning meeting with Beijing. When asked for comment, the White House said to CNBC that "the teams remain in touch in preparation for high level talks with Vice Premier Liu He at the end of this month."

Elsewhere, officials from the Chinese finance ministry said Wednesday that Beijing will boost fiscal expenditure in 2019 to bolster the country's economy, Reuters reported.

Back in Europe, Brexit continues to dominate headlines and parliamentary debate in the U.K. At the World Economic Forum, British Trade Secretary Liam Fox said to CNBC that he believed that there was a "good chance" that the U.K. would secure an exit agreement with the European Union. Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc on March 29, 2019.

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