- Ukraine crisis continues
- Copper prices under pressure as Chinese yuan falls
- Eurozone industrial output falls on the month
- Europe faces risk of stagnation, says Soros
FTSE 100: -0.97%
CAC 40: -1.00%
FTSE MIB: -0.25%
IBEX 35: -0.88%
Stoxx 600: -1.07%
European stocks slumped as the Group of Seven Nations (G7) called on Russia to end efforts to occupy Ukraine's Crimea region.
France, Germany, Italy, the US, Canada, the UK and Japan said they would take further action if Russia annexes Crimea following the plebiscite.
The G7 leaders also said they would not recognise the results of a referendum in Crimea this weekend on whether to split from Ukraine and join Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said US aid to the acting government in Kiev would violate American law due to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine's president last month. Yatsenyuk was scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama today.
Meanwhile, European Union member states have reportedly agreed the wording on sanctions on Russia, including travel bans and asset freezes on those responsible for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine. A draft document, obtained by Reuters, describes the measures to be taken against Moscow if it refused to withdraw troops from Crimea and begin talks with Western leaders to resolve the turmoil in Ukraine.
Markets were also jittery following data earlier this week from China which included a surprise trade deficit in February.
Investors were also looking ahead to data due tomorrow which is likely to show that Chinese industrial output growth eased slightly last month.
In parallel, forward contracts on the Chinese yuan have dropped to five-month lows. The unexpected depreciation in the currency places pressure on the use of commodities like copper as collateral for credit and financing costs for the lowest rated firms more generally.
Europe at risk of Japanese-style stagnation, says Soros
Europe is at risk of Japanese-style stagnation unless policymakers take more 'radical' action, according to US billionaire tycoon George Soros.
He said Europe's immediate financial crisis has come to an end, but the region still faces a political crisis.
The bloc "may not survive 25 years of stagnation", Soros told Bloomberg.
"You have to go further with the integration. You have to solve the banking problem, because Europe is lagging behind the rest of the world in sorting out its banks."
In other Eurozone news, industrial production fell 0.2% on the month in January after a revised drop of 0.4% in December. Analysts expected a 0.5% increase. However, on a year-on-year basis, industrial production grew by 2.1%, beating the consensus forecast of a 1.9% increase and almost doubling the 1.2% rise registered in December.
Tod's declined after the Italian luxury-goods maker reported 2013 net that missed analysts' estimates.
Maersk dropped after the estate of the shipping company's former Chairman Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, who died in 2012, sold a 1.4% stake to pay taxes.
Valeo edged lower after Bpifrance Financement SA sold about 1.98m shares
in France's second-biggest auto-parts maker to institutional investors for €200m.
G4S slumped after posting a drop in 2013 underlying earnings that fell short of market forecasts.
The euro rose 0.35% to $1.3909.
Brent crude futures fell $0.649 to $107.850 per barrel, according to the ICE.