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European Stocks Close Mostly Lower After Cautious Session

European stocks ended mostly lower on Tuesday, as investors stayed cautious after recent strong uptick and looked for further news on coronavirus vaccine and digested the latest batch of economic data and corporate news.

Investors were also reacting to reports that Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands are continuing to oppose monetary support to other EU member states in the form of grants, following Germany and France's plan to create a new €500 billion Recovery Fund to support the regions and sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The pan European Stoxx 600 declined 0.61%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended down 0.77% and France's CAC 40 shed 0.89%, while Germany's DAX advanced 0.15% and Switzerland's SMI moved up 0.24%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Spain and Sweden ended notably lower. Ireland declined marginally.

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Russia posted notable gains, while Netherlands, Poland and Portugal ended flat.

In the U.K. market, Imperial Brands declined more than 6%. Centrica shed about 5.2%. Compass Group, Kingfisher, Antofagasta, Associated British Foods, National Grid, Unilever, BP and Tesco lost 2 to 4%.

On the other hand, IAG soared more than 8%, Standard Life gained 5.3% and Hiscox advanced 4.5%. M&G, Flutter Entertainment, Meggitt, ITV, Intercontinental, Ocado Group and JD Sports Fashion also rose sharply.

In the French market, Renault plunged more than 9%. Sodexo declined 8% and Peugeot shed about 6.1%. Unibail Rodamco, Legrand, Bouygues, Societe Generale, Valeo, Veolia Environment, Worldline and Publicis Group lost 3.4 to 6%.

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom, Beiersdorf, Wirecard, Lufthansa, HeidelbergCement and Munich RE lost 1.4 to 2.2%.

Thyssenkrupp shares moved up more than 5%. Infineon Technologies gained 2.6%. Allianz, Adidas, Siemens, Fresenius and Vonovia gained 1.2 to 2.1%.

In economic news, data from the Office for National Statistics showed UK unemployment rate rose only marginally in the first quarter, with the ILO jobless rate coming in at 3.9%, well below economists' forecast of 4.4%.

The ONS said the unemployment rate was 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.

At the same time, the employment rate in the three months to March reached a joint-record high of 76.6% which was 0.6 percentage points higher than a year earlier.

Survey data from the ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research showed German economic confidence improved notably in May, with the economic sentiment indicator rising 22.8 point to 51, against an expected reading of 32.0.

However, the assessment of current economic situation continued its downward trend. The corresponding index fell to -93.5 from -91.5 a month ago. The score was forecast to rise to -88.0.

According to a report from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA, Europe's car registrations declined at the strongest pace since records began in April amid coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic.

The report said passenger car sales plunged 76.3% year-on-year in April, following a 55.1% fall in March.

Among the four major markets, demand in Spain and Italy declined 97.6% and 96.5%, respectively. Demand in France dropped 88.8%, while sales in Germany declined 61.1%.

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