European stock markets were struggling for direction on Tuesday. The FTSE 100 index lost 0.7% to 6,749 points, while France’s CAC 40 index rose 0.5% to 4,530 and the Dax 30 index was flat at 10,583. Investors are staying on the sidelines ahead of Wednesday's closely watched Opec meeting and the Italian constitutional reform referendum at the weekend.
Italian banks were among biggest advancers, rebounding from sharp losses suffered in Monday’s action. The sharp moves reflect uncertainty before the country’s referendum on proposed constitutional reforms on Sunday. Analysts fear a rejection could unleash political and economic uncertainty in a country that is already battling with a banking crisis. Banca Monte dei Paschi Siena gained 4.4% to EUR 17.97, while Intesa SanPaolo, Banca Popolare and Unicredit added 2%.
European indices were also weighed down by oil shares ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna on Wednesday. A technical meeting on Monday — without Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia — failed to yield an agreement on how to freeze or cut oil production, media reports said. In London, BP plc lost 1.9% to GBp 443, while oil group Total fell 0.7% to EUR 43.72 in Paris.
Shares in Antofagasta, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American fell by 1.7% to 3.4% following a 1.2-2.1% drop in prices of copper , aluminium and nickel.
Swiss biotech firm Actelion fell 4.6% on a report saying the company was not actively considering selling itself, but instead weighing a "complicated deal" to link with Johnson & Johnson.
TalkTalk rose 4.2%, rebounding off four-year lows, after Britain's telecoms regulator said it will go to the European Commission to try to force BT to legally separate from Openreach, the network that delivers broadband to millions of homes and businesses.
US futures are trading up 0.1% ahead of US GDP and consumer confidence data this afternoon.
Mid-session Europe is part of TradingFloor's stable of commentary running through from the US close, through Asia to the European session. Click below to keep abreast of all the developments as they happen.
Opec, the oil-producers' cartel, meets in Vienna on Wednesday. Photo: iStock
— Edited by John Acher and Michael McKenna