Europe Markets

European stocks close lower as traders battle nerves over growth, ECB meeting

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally ended the session down 1%, with autos dropping 2.2% to lead losses as most sectors and major bourses dipped into negative territory.
  • Investors in Europe are erring on the side of caution ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank meeting.
  • U.S. job openings for July rose to a fresh record high of 10.9 million, according to data released by the Labor Department Wednesday.

LONDON — European stocks closed lower on Wednesday, reflecting cautious trade in global markets amid nervousness over economic growth and a resurgence in Covid cases.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally ended the session down 1%, with autos dropping 2.2% to lead losses as most sectors and major bourses dipped into negative territory.

European investors are erring on the side of caution ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank meeting. A recent spike in euro zone inflation and an uptick in economic indicators has led some market watchers to anticipate a more hawkish tone from policymakers.

The declines in Europe come after a choppy trading session in U.S. markets on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 200 points as investors reassessed the growth outlook following a smooth ride in the market this year. U.S. stocks continued to fall on Wednesday.

The negative sentiment stateside comes as concerns over the potential economic hit of the delta variant weighed on investor sentiment, with Goldman Sachs downgrading its U.S. economic growth outlook over the weekend.

U.S. job openings for July rose to a fresh record high of 10.9 million, according to data released Wednesday by the Labor Department. It follows last Friday's U.S. jobs report, which showed nonfarm payrolls in August increasing by just 235,000 an expected 720,000.

Earnings reports in Europe on Wednesday included full-year preliminary results from Dunelm, while Halfords releases a trading update.

In terms of individual share price movement, Siemens Gamesa dropped 8.6% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after JPMorgan cut the stock to neutral on expectations that the company's earnings downgrade will last longer. Parent company Siemens Energy also fell 8.1%.

At the top of the European blue-chip index, B&M European Value Retail shares climbed 6.9% after a promising trading update.

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- CNBC's Ryan Browne, Yun Li and Eustance Huang contributed to this report.