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Europe markets lower as US trade deficit jumps to decade high; Burberry down 4%

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session slightly lower after data showed the U.S. trade deficit jumped to a 10-year high in 2018. 
  • Investors awaited details on negotiations between Washington and Beijing. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday he thought Washington and Beijing were "on the cusp" of reaching a deal.
  • There is also a strong focus on the Chinese economy, after Beijing lowered its growth target for 2019.

Stocks in Europe lost momentum on Wednesday afternoon as data showed the U.S. trade deficit jumped to a 10-year high in 2018.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session provisionally lower 0.06 percent with sectors in mixed territory. Stocks in the Basic Resources basket was the best performing sector, up almost 1 percent, while autos led the losses amid continued trade tensions.

Investors are still awaiting details on negotiations between Washington and Beijing. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday he thought Washington and Beijing were "on the cusp" of reaching a deal. Despite positive comments from different members of the U.S. administration, market players are yet to find out how far-reaching the deal could be.

In corporate news, packager DS Smith was among the top performers, up by 3.7 percent. The company said that it's to sell its plastics business for $585 million, according to Reuters.

Shares of Brenntag rose 3.5 percent as the company said it is actively looking for acquisitions. Prysmian, on the other hand, sank 3 percent after a "mixed bag" for its fourth-quarter results, according to J.P. Morgan analysts.

Elsewhere, shares in French bank Credit Agricole edged lower following media reports about a money laundering network that allegedly channeled billions of euros from Russia. Dutch prosecutors also said on Wednesday they were evaluating signs of Dutch involvement in the network, sending shares in Dutch lender ING down more than 2 percent.

Italian government bond yields fell on Wednesday after Bloomberg reported the ECB is holding discussions on new ultra-cheap bank loans.

On the earnings front, Just Eat's shares edged slightly higher after it posted higher revenues. The company is under pressure by one of its shareholders to merge with an online delivery rival.

Shares of Burberry, meanwhile, dropped 4 percent after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to a sell.

China under scrutiny

There is also a strong focus on the Chinese economy, after Beijing lowered its growth target for 2019. J.P. Morgan Asset Management told CNBC that the slowdown is "entirely natural," while Capital Economics suggested that China's growth could fall to 2 percent over the next decade.

Stateside, stocks traded lower on Wednesday as investors digested the U.S. trade data and continued to wait for a resolution from trade talks with China.