- Chinese yuan at five month lows
- Ukrainian Prime Minister to meet Obama
- Irish long-term debt auction in focus
- Italian PM to unveil first round of economic reforms
FTSE 100: -0.84%
FTSE Mibtel: -0.21%
Ibex 35: -0.96%
European equities were holding lower come midday as the tensions in Ukraine continue to build up, with traders also warily eyeing what may be a looming second onshore debt default in China involving another solar power outfit.
A second Chinese solar company, Baoding Tianwei Baobian, has attracted traders' attention after its debt was suspended from trading last Monday and the firm announced a second year of losses. That may draw attention to the finances of a sector in China - renewable energies - which some market commentary has seen as undergoing a bit of a bubble. Such companies are often the most prone to poor finances.
In parallel, forward contracts on the Chinese yuan have dropped to five-month lows. The unexpected depreciation in the country's currency places pressure on the use of commodities like copper as collateral for credit.
Acting as a backdrop, Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is to meet US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington. Yatsenyuk is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council tomorrow.
Also in focus is tomorrow's auction of long-term Irish sovereign bonds, the first since 2010. Yields on these instruments are lower by four basis points in afternoon trading at 3.02%.
At today's cabinet meeting, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is expected to unveil a first round of economic reforms. The lower house of parliament is expected to give final approval to the country's new electoral law today.
Stock in Swiss staffing firm Adecco is higher by 4.9% after posting full-year earnings that came in ahead of analysts' estimates.
Germany's E.On has cut its dividend after announcing that it expects core profit to decline in 2014.
Italian peer Enel has said it sees core earnings slowing down compared to last year, as its main markets continue to suffer.
Within the DJ Stoxx 600 the worst performance was seen in the following industrial groups: personal and household goods (-1.66%), automobiles and parts (-2.07%) and banks (-1.37%).
Eurozone industrial production comes in weaker than forecast
Eurozone industrial production contracted at a 0.2% month-on-month pace in February (consensus: +0.5%). The previous month's gain was revised higher, to -0.4% from -0.7% in the month before.
The quarterly rate growth rate accelerated to 0.8% from 0.5%, the fastest pace since mid-2013, Unicredit Research points out.
Spain's index of harmonised consumer prices was revised higher to show a gain of 0.1% in year-on-year terms during the month of February (consensus: 0%).
French non-farm payrolls rose by 0.2% in the last three months of 2013.
Crude futures slip
The euro/dollar is now edging higher by 0.07% at 1.3870.
Front month Brent crude futures are falling 0.64% to $107.86/barrel on the ICE.