Europe Trims Losses but Closes Lower

European shares closed lower on Wednesday amid political turmoil in Portugal, but positive jobs data from the U.S. helped to trim intra-day lows.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed down 0.7 percent at 1,151.03 as investor concerns about a political crisis in Portugal grew, following the resignation of Foreign Minister Paulo Portas on Tuesday.

London's FTSE 100 closed 1.1 percent lower, and both Germany's DAX and France's CAC slipped by 1 percent.

However U.S. data, which showed private companies hired 188,000 new workers in June, considerably more than expected, helped lift Europe's stocks from session lows.

In the U.S., stocks struggled in a choppy holiday-shortened trading session as the good jobs data was offset by the ISM non-manufacturing index coming in at 52.2, its weakest level since Feb. 2010.

(Read More: Portugal Stocks Tumble as Political Crisis Worsens)


In Portugal, Portas became the second minister to step down from the government in a 24-hour period, putting the government in further jeopardy. Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar, who implemented unpopular austerity measures as part of a 78 billion euro ($101 billion) EU-IMF bailout, resigned on Monday.

Portas' resignation threatens the future of the government because he leads the junior partner in the two-party governing coalition and his party could now leave the partnership.

Portugal's PSI 20 closed down 5.2 percent, the index's biggest fall since 2011.

Meanwhile, tensions remain high in Greece, as its international lenders discuss the conditions of the next part of its international bailout.

(Read More: Egypt, Portugal Put Market Risks Back on Table)

"Greece has made progress thanks to the very reform-oriented government by (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras," Chancellor Angela Merkel told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "I expect that debt sustainability will continue to be a given."

Some fairly upbeat data came from the euro zone on Wednesday. The final reading of Markit's composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) climbed to 48.7 from May's 47.7, and retail sales showed an unexpected jump.

In the U.K., service sector PMI data surged to a 27-month high in June to 56.9, up from May's 54.9.

However, alongside Portugal, Egypt continued to spook investors.

Rivals President Mohammed Morsi and General Abdel Fattahal-Sisi both said they would fight to the death for power as the ultimatum given by the army for Morsi to listen "to the will of the people" expired.