The European markets are in negative territory in afternoon trading Wednesday, as unimpressive economic data and lingering concerns about Greece killed risk appetite in the region.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is retreating 0.79 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is losing 0.93 percent.
The German DAX is losing 1.01 percent and the French CAC 40 is falling 0.53 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is dropping 0.47 percent and Switzerland's SMI is declining 1.02 percent.
Lufthansa is falling about 2 percent in Frankfurt, thus leading the decliners, as a strike in Frankfurt continued.
Barclays raised RWE to "Equalweight" from "Underweight." The stock is down 1 percent.
Berenberg Bank lowered its rating on Bayer to "Hold" from "Buy." The stock is falling 1.1 percent.
Commerzbank is dropping 1.7 percent and Deutsche Bank is receding 0.2 percent.
Merck, Fresenius and Siemens are in positive territory.
Aareal Bank is declining 6.2 percent. Deutsche Bank cut the stock to "Hold" from "Buy."
Rhoen-Klinikum is gaining 1.9 percent after Credit Suisse initiated the hospital operator with an "Outperform" rating.
Draegerwerk is gaining 4.2 percent. HSBC raised the stock to "Overweight" from "Neutral."
In Paris, Credit Agricole is declining 2.1 percent. Societe Generale and BNP Paribas are also notably lower.
GDF Suez is falling 1.5 percent. HSBC cut the stock to "Underweight" from "Overweight."
Real etate developer Nexity is declining 4.7 percent. The company forecast a tough year for the new homes market and a slowdown of the commercial estate market in 2012.
Straumann Holding is retreating 8.1 percent.
Peugeot is surging over 18 percent after the carmaker said it is in talks about possible cooperations and alliances.
Schneider Electric is gaining 5.8 percent after reporting higher profit for 2011.
Hotel group Accor is climbing 4.6 percent. The company reported higher profit for 2011 and said it is confident on 2012.
France Telecom intends to adjust its shareholder remuneration policy, after reporting lower earnings and revenues for both the fourth quarter and full-year 2011. The stock is climbing over 2 percent.
Shopping center owner Klepierre is advancing 3.2 percent.
Miners are seeing weakness in London. Anglo American and Antofagasta are notably lower. Vedanta is declining 4.4 percent.
Royal Dutch Shell is slightly down. The company has offered to acquire Cove Energy for 992.4 million pounds. Cove shares are surging close to 25 percent.
Among lenders, Barclays is losing 1.2 percent.
TUI Travel is down 2.5 percent after reporting a wider loss.
Defense firm BAE Systems is gaining over 1 percent and Capita is advancing 1.2 percent. Meggitt is gaining 2.3 percent. Rexam is climbing 3.2 percent.
In economic news, Germany's private sector activity logged growth in February, but the rate of expansion slowed from January, data from Markit Economics revealed. The flash composite output index came in at 52.9, down from 53.9 in January. The Purchasing Managers' Index for the manufacturing sector fell unexpectedly to 50.1 from 51 a month ago.
Separate data revealed that Eurozone private sector contracted in February, following the marginal expansion seen in January. The composite output index fell to 49.7 in February from 50.4 in January. Economists expected the score to remain almost steady at 50.5.
Data from a survey by Conference Board showed that France's leading economic index increased from the previous month in December.
Across Asia/Pacific, major markets ended in the green. China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.93 percent after data showed that the nation's manufacturing activity improved in February despite remaining in negative territory.
Australia's All Ordinaries gained 0.09 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.33 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 climbed about 1 percent.
In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the Dow rose 0.12 percent and the S&P 500 ticked up 0.07 points, while the Nasdaq was flat.
In the commodity space, crude for April delivery is sliding $0.60 to $105.65 per barrel and April gold is falling $2.9 to $1755.6 a troy ounce.
by RTT Staff Writer
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