The broad-based major European indices closed lower in Wednesday trading as industrials and automotive stocks weighed down the markets.
In economic news, the European Commission has adopted two contingency proposals to help mitigate the impact of a "no-deal" Brexit on EU fisheries.
The first proposal is to allow fishermen and operators from EU Members States to receive compensation under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the temporary cessation of fishing activities. The EC said this will help off-set some of the impact of a sudden closure of UK waters to EU fishing vessels in a no-deal scenario.
The EC's second proposal amends the Regulation on the Sustainable Management of the External Fleets to ensure that the EU is in a position to grant UK vessels access to EU waters until the end of 2019. However, this is on the condition that EU vessels are also granted reciprocal access to UK waters. The proposal also provides for a simplified procedure to authorize UK vessels to fish in EU waters and EU vessels to fish in UK waters -- should the UK grant that access. The proposal is limited to 2019.
In France, the Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that the business climate in January was stable after worsening sharply in the previous month. The composite indicator, compiled from the answers of business managers in the main sectors was 102, slightly above its long-term mean (100). Compared with the previous survey, the business climate indicator has lost five points in wholesale trade and one point in building construction, while gaining one point in services.
INSEE also reported that the employment climate was stable in January as the associated composite indicator was 104, above its long-term average. The increase in the balance of opinion on expected workforce size in the service sector excluding temporary work agencies was offset by decreases in some balances of opinion in other sectors.
And in Italy, the labor cost per employee in enterprises and institutions of the private and public sectors with at least 10 employees amounted to EUR41,785 ($47,457) in 2016, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat). Wages and salaries per employee were EUR30,237, accounting for 72.4% of the total labor cost. The highest values of wages and salaries were recorded in mining and quarrying (EUR53,370) and financial and insurance activities (EUR52,666), while the lowest value was recorded in accommodation and food service activities (EUR17,806).
In equities, Packaging company DS Smith, and consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser Group led the FTSE lower in London, falling 5.4% and 4.1% respectively, followed by health care company NMC Helath, which lost 3.9%. Plumbing and heating products distributor Ferguson, turnaournd firm Melrose Industries, and industrial equipment rental company Ashtead Group were down 3.4%, 3.2%, and 3% respectively, while private equity firm 3i Group, and online gambling company GVC holdings each closed 2.9% lower.
In Frankfurt, adhesives manufacturer Covestro, and chemicals company BASF led the DAX into negative territory, losing 2.1% and 1.8% respectively, followed by chemicals company Linde, and industrial group Thyssenkrupp, which fell 1.7% each. Automakers also helped lead the market lower as Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler dropped 0.9%, 0.7%, and 0.6% respectively.
And in Paris, oilfield services company TechnipFMC, and auto parts supplier Valeo led the CAC lower, falling 2.2% and 2% respectively, followed by energy management firm Schneider Electric, and automaker Peugeot which dropped 1.6% each. Steel and mining company ArcelorMittal, construction materials supplier Saint Gobain, and media company Vivendi were off 1.5%, 1.4%, and 1.1% respectively, while industrial group Legrand and airplane manufacturer Airbus Group each closed 1% lower.
The FTSE fell 0.85%, the DAX dropped 0.17%, and the CAC-40 lost 0.15%.
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