- Ukraine-Russia tensions flare
- Eurozone consumer confidence falls
- German unemployment drops
- Draghi, Yellen due to speak
FTSE 100: -0.70%
CAC 40: -0.70%
FTSE MIB: -1.04%
IBEX 35% -1.22%
Stoxx 600: -0.85%
European stocks declined as tensions escalated in the Ukraine and as Eurozone consumer confidence declined.
Ousted Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich told Russian media today he still considers himself the legitimate leader of the eastern-European nation.
Following several days of hiding, Yanukovich said it had become "obvious" that citizens in the southeast of Ukraine and Crimea - which have an ethnic Russian majority - would not accept anarchy and lawlessness.
His remarks came as armed men seized the regional government headquarters and parliament in Crimea today and raised the Russian flag.
"I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet," said Olexander Turchinov, acting president since the removal of Viktor Yanukovich last week.
"Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory (the base) will be seen by us as military aggression."
Eurozone consumer and economic confidence
Eurozone consumer confidence fell in line with expectations in February. The index for consumer sentiment dropped to -12.7 from -11.7 in January.
On a brighter note, economic confidence rose to 101.2 in February, the highest reading since July 2011, from a revised 101 in January. Economists had predicted a reading of 100.7.
In Germany, the number of people unemployed fell 14,000 compared to forecasts of 10,000, while jobless claims declined by 28,000, according to the Federal Statistics Office. The jobless rate held steady at 6.8% as expected.
At 13:00 GMT, German inflation will be released and is anticipated to remain unchanged at 1.3% year-on-year in February. Harmonised consumer prices are tipped to fall slightly to 1.1% on the year in February from 1.2% a month before.
European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi is due to speak in Frankfurt later. ECB policy makers Jens Weidmann, Erkki Liikanen and Ewald Nowotny are also scheduled to speak at separate events.
They may offer further clues as to the ECB's next policy action at its March meeting.
Draghi has already hinted that the ECB is considering enacting greater measures to tackle low inflation and high unemployment following the release of more comprehensive data, including economic forecasts, next month.
Yellen delivers testimony
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will today deliver her testimony to the Senate on monetary policy and the economy, which had been delayed due to bad weather.
Yellen has indicated that the Fed will probably continue to scale back monthly asset purchases at each policy meeting until ending it all together later this year.
Also in the US today, reports on durable goods orders and initial jobless claims are scheduled for release.
Durable goods orders may have fallen 1.6% in January, compared to a 4.2% drop in December, according to the consensus forecast.
US initial jobless claims are predicted to have increased by 335,000 in the week to February 21st, down slightly from 336,000 in the previous week.
The Fed is paying particularly close attention to incoming jobs figures to gauge the health of the economy as it determines its next policy move ahead of its March meeting.
Royal Bank of Scotland's shares
declined after the state-backed lender widened its 2013 pre-tax loss to £8.24bn from £5.27bn a year earlier, missing analysts' estimates of £6.7bn. It marked the bank's biggest loss since the height of the 2008 financial crisis.
Essilor International declined as the French maker of contact lenses reported 2013 net income that fell short of market expectations.
Water utility Veolia Environnement gained as Chairman Antoine Frerot forecast that revenue, operating income and net income would increase in 2014.
GDF Suez climbed as France's largest gas supplier predicted 2014 income that exceeded analysts' projections.
Allianz dropped as Europe's largest insurer posted fourth quarter earnings that fell short of market forecasts and said operating profit may decline this year amid low interest rates.
WPP slumped as the advertising giant increased its share buyback programme to counter a hit from volatile emerging market exchange rates
as it reported its 2013 results. Numis said shares could come under pressure from the impact to reported margins and slightly lower margin guidance.
The euro dipped 0.18% to $1.3662.
Brent crude futures declined $0.459 to $109.020 per barrel, according to from the ICE.