- China banking sector concerns
- Berlusconi to stand trial over bribery claims
- ECB bank stress tests
- BoE meeting minutes rate hikes could come earlier
- Spain exits two-year recession
FTSE 100: -0.32%
CAC 40: -0.81%
FTSE MIB: -2.38%
IBEX 35: -1.84%
Stoxx 600: -0.62%
European stocks fell after a report showed debt write-offs at China's biggest lenders tripled in the first half, reigniting fears over the banking sector in the world's second largest economy.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and its four largest rivals wrote off 22.1bn yuan of debt that couldn't be collected, compared to 7.65bn yuan a year earlier, the report revealed.
It raised concerns over China's shadow banking system and whether the People's Bank of China (PBOC) will need to raise interest rates in order to fix the problem.
"If we do see a tightening of monetary policy from the PBOC, it could choke off the recovery being seen in the world's second largest economy, which in turn would impact growth globally," according to Alpari UK Market Analyst, Craig Erlam.
Berlusconi to stand trial
Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly bribing a senator.
He is accused of paying left-wing senator Sergio De Gregorio €3m to defect to his party in 2006 and help bring down the government.
Berlusconi has been entangled in a number of trials including for tax evasion.
His latest trial is scheduled to start in February.
ECB stress tests, BoE meeting minutes
The European Central Bank has applied an 8% capital buffer to 124 banks as part of its upcoming stress tests.
The Eurozone's top banks will undergo a comprehensive batch of tests next year in an effort to build confidence in the sector.
The ECB is looking for risks in banks' balance sheets before taking over supervision of lenders from November 2014 as part of a European banking union.
In the UK, meeting minutes from the Bank of England (BoE) showed the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously last month to keep interest rates on hold and saw little need for more stimulus.
Committee members acknowledged a slightly faster-than-expected fall in unemployment as the recovery strengthened quicker than hoped. However, views diverged over how fast productivity and jobs would pick up.
"This faster-than-expected reduction in unemployment may result in the implied timing of the MPC's first rate hike being brought forward from the second half of 2016," according to Investec.
Also in the UK today, the British Bankers' Association revealed loans for house purchases rose by 42,990 in September from 38,228 the prior month, beating the consensus estimate for a rise to 39,500 loans.
In Spain, gross domestic product expanded 0.1% in the third quarter, compared to the previous quarter when it shrank 0.1%, breaking away from a two-year recession.
Spain is exiting its second recession since 2008 thanks to growth in foreign investments of the nation's bond and stock markets.
Orange declined after the French telecommunications company posted a 7.7% fall in third-quarter earnings due to drop in sales.
GlaxoSmithKline slumped after Sky News reported that the drugmaker will reveal a fall in sales in China when it reports its third-quarter results later today.
STMicroelectronics NV tumbled after the European semiconductor maker reported a $142m quarterly net loss.
International Consolidated Airlines rose after yesterday saying its Spanish carrier Iberia will return to profit next year.
Telecity Group declined after Bank of America reiterated an 'underperform' rating for the data-centre operator, saying the company has little opportunity to increase prices due to new competitors and a weak market.
Norsk Hydro advanced after the European aluminium producer posted third quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations.
Brent crude slips
Brent crude futures fell $1.317 to $108.540 per barrel on the ICE.
The euro rose slightly by 0.04% to $1.3787.