- Fears raised over Federal Reserve stimulus measures
- Italian election takes another twist
- Rumours of Vodafone bid for Kabel Deutschland intensify
FTSE Mibtel 30: -2.91%
Ibex 35: -1.99%
Stoxx 600: -1.39%
European equities were haemorrhaging losses Thursday as investors voiced concerns over the US Federal Reserve's stimulus measures.
Lawmakers remained divided over the future of the county's quantitative easing programme, according to minutes of meeting released Wednesday.
The minutes described the discussions of policymakers during the two-day January Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting.
It said several participants "emphasized that the committee should be prepared to vary the pace of asset purchases, either in response to changes in the economic outlook or as its evaluation of the efficacy and costs of such purchases evolved".
Fears the Federal Reserve will scale back its asset-purchase program have been weighing on markets for months.
However, according to the minutes, policymakers said the central bank's efforts to invest tens of billions of dollars into the economy every month should not end any time soon as consumers are just beginning to reap the benefits of low interest rates and increased credit.
Italian election heats up
With just days to go before Italy's election, Prime Minister Mario Monti has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of expressing opposition to his political rivals on the centre-left.
Monti was cited by Italian news agency Adnkronos as saying: "Merkel fears the consolidation of parties from the left, especially in an election year for her. I don't think she has any wish to see the DP [Democratic Party] arrive in government."
He made the comments in response to an statement by his other main rival, Silvio Berlusconi, who said Monti and PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani had agreed to join forces "with Merkel's blessing".
The country will head to the polls on Sunday.
drop amid take-over bid reports
Vodafone shares tumbled as rumours of a take-over bid for German cable operator Kabel Deutschland accelerated. Kabel, which reported double net profits for the last nine months of 2012, advanced.
Safran plummeted as the maker of aircraft engines said it kicked off exploratory talks with Avio.
Axa slumped after net income dropped to €4.15bn in 2012 from €4.19bn in 2011.
BAE Systems advanced as the defence firm said it will buy back as much as £1.0bn of shares over three years after posting a fall in annual earnings.
Schneider Electric surged after the world's biggest maker of low-and medium-voltage equipment said revenue will bounce back this year.
Fall in single currency
The euro/dollar plunged by 0.55% to the 1.3210 dollar
Front month Brent crude futures decreased by 1.190 dollars to the 114.240 dollar per barrel mark on the ICE.