- Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine call for independence vote
- Weak German, French and Chinese data
steady at 1.3930
FTSE 100: -0.39%
Dax 30: -0.14%
Cac 50: -0.14%
FTSE Mibtel 30: -1.01%
Ibex 35: 0.54%
Stoxx 600: -0.32%
European stocks were holding lower following an overnight spill on Wall Street and figures from China that showed a slowing in the country's services sector.
Further weighing on sentiment, overnight the Chairman of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee said that sanctions against Russian outfits such as Rosneft and Gazprom ought to be be considered.
That came as pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass said they will hold a referendum on secession on Sunday May 11th.
The US Secretary of State warned that any such attempt would be "bogus" and further sanctions would be applied on Russia if it went ahead.
Earlier the top ranking official at the OSCE called for a cease-fire in Ukraine so that "fair and inclusive" elections can be held on May 25th. Russian President Vladirmir Putin and the Chairman of the OSCE were to meet on Wednesday evening, in Moscow.
Traders were also expectant ahead of testimony this afternoon from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. That "may induce some profit taking if she proves less dovish than markets expect," Unicredit warned.
Nonetheless, the broker expected the single currency to continue to advance. "But the 1.3870 support area appears quite solid and new 2014 highs above 1.3967 remain in the offing. Medium-term, we continue to like the euro", Unicredit added.
Firms count the costs of the situation in Ukraine
Danish brewer Carlsberg registered a first-quarter net loss and cut its full-year guidance on the back of the weak Russian rouble and ongoing uncertainty in Russia and Ukraine.
Société Générale also notified shareholders on Wednesday of the negative impact which the situation in Russia would have on its first-quarter net profits.
From a sector standpoint the worst performing industrial groups on the DJ Stoxx 600 were: Construction (-1.44%), Financial services (-1.13%) and Banks (-0.91%).
Weak industrial data, particularly in France
German factory orders dropped by 2.8% month-on-month in March, led by a sharp drop in the volatile transport equipment segment.
French industrial output fell by 0.7% over the month in March, coming in well below the 0.3% rise expected by Barclays. The broker described the figures as a "disappointment, especially with respect to manufactured products".
Euro steady at 1.3930
Front month Brent crude futures were 0.27% higher at $107.35/barrel on the ICE.
The single currency was holding more or less steady at 1.3930 versus the US dollar.