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European stocks close lower as trade concerns weigh; Ericsson down 11%

Key Points
  • President Trump says the U.S. and China still have a "long way to go" on trade.
  • Earnings are also in focus, with a slew of corporate results set to be released.
  • G-7 finance ministers will meet to discuss trade tensions and France's digital tax.

European stocks lost value by the end of trade Wednesday as trade concerns continued to weigh on global markets while earnings season gathered pace.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally traded 0.36% lower during the session, with oil and gas stocks slipping almost  2% but food and beverage stocks clawing a 0.5% rise.

Market focus early Wednesday was largely attuned to the U.S.-China trade spat. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that the U.S. and China still have a "long way to go" on trade, adding that Washington could slap tariffs on an additional $325 billion in Chinese goods "if we want."

Trump's comments came after both countries agreed not to ratchet up trade tensions in an effort to restart talks. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of each other's imports since last year.

Attention shifted briefly as euro zone inflation data showed improvement, but still fell short of European Central Bank (ECB) targets, rendering it unlikely to dampen expectations of monetary policy easing from the central bank

Euro zone inflation year-on-year for June came in slightly higher than initially forecast on Wednesday at 1.3%, but both headline and underlying inflation rates remain below the improvement sought by the ECB, which targets a rate of just below 2%.

British inflation matched the Bank of England's 2% target for the second consecutive month.

Meanwhile, earnings are also in focus for investors. In Europe, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum shares rallied 10% after the company forecast full-year profit and sales growth. Shares of Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group climbed after it issued guidance for strong growth ahead despite a fall in first-half profits.

Swedish manufacturer Dometic Group saw its shares tumble 6.7% following disappointing second-quarter earnings, while telecoms equipment maker Ericsson dropped 11.2% after warning that the costs of winning new network business may negatively impact its profit margins in the second half of the year.

Swedbank also slipped sharply after it cut its dividend amid uncertainties over its exposure to a Baltic money-laundering scandal.

Elsewhere, finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) met in France, with U.S.-Sino trade tensions, France's digital tax and Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency expected to be on the agenda.