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European stocks close lower as Powell hints at Fed rate cut

Key Points
  • U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee in a prepared testimony that the central bank will "act as appropriate" to sustain expansion as "crosscurrents" are weighing on the economic outlook.
  • Investors will also be monitoring trade negotiations between the U.S. and China after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said officials from the world's two largest economies had held a "constructive" phone conversation on Tuesday.

European stocks edged lower on Wednesday afternoon after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted at imminent interest rate cuts in a testimony to Congress.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell almost 0.2% during afternoon trade, with the vast majority of sectors in negative territory.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

Europe's telecoms stocks led the losses, shedding around 0.8%, with the autos and food and beverages sectors also among the session's worst performers.

Powell told the House Financial Services Committee in a prepared testimony on Wednesday that the central bank will "act as appropriate" to sustain expansion as "crosscurrents" are weighing on the economic outlook.

He also raised concerns over Facebook's cryptocurrency project, known as Libra, which helped to send technology stocks lower.

Investors will also be monitoring trade negotiations between the U.S. and China after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said officials from the world's two largest economies had held a "constructive" phone conversation on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, tensions between traditional transatlantic allies have continued to simmer after Britain's ambassador to Washington resigned on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump had attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May and her U.S. envoy Kim Darroch on Twitter, after the latter was revealed to have branded the White House "inept" in leaked diplomatic cables.

In corporate news, Deutsche Bank shares finally got some reprieve Wednesday, climbing nearly 1% by the afternoon. The German lender's shares had been hit hard since Monday's commencement of a mass restructuring plan, which will drastically shrink its investment bank and shift focus to its domestic market.

Chipmaker AMS topped the Stoxx 600 with a 6% jump, while at the other end of the European blue chip index, shares of British technology company Micro Focus tumbled more than 11% after the company warned on Tuesday that its revenues would fall by as much as 6% in 2019, as it struggles to absorb Hewlett Packard's software division.

British recruitment giant Hays fell by 6% after domestic rival PageGroup warned on profits.

Data published Wednesday revealed that the U.K. economy grew by more than expected in May, aided by a resurgence in car production after Brexit-related shutdowns. Overall output expanded by 0.3% after contracting by 0.4% in April, exceeding expectations of a modest 0.1% rise.