European equity benchmarks were extending a selloff on Wednesday morning amid a flurry of acquisition and trading updates and as oil prices contracted ahead of weekly US inventory data.
Oil prices were in retreat the morning after the American Petroleum Institute reportedly projected a 5.5 million barrel draw in US stockpiles of crude oil in the week ended December 1. Official data from the Energy Information Administration is due to be published later in the day. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the main US oil benchmark, was 0.7% lower at $57.20 per barrel while Brent crude, the international gauge, was down by 0.6% at $62.48 per barrel.
In economic news, research company Markit's latest survey data indicated that Eurozone retail Purchasing Managers' Index showed like-for-like retail sales growth hit a five-month high in November. The month's gain also represented the eighth consecutive monthly rise in like-for-like sales.
And, separately, in Germany, monthly new orders rose for the third consecutive month in October, according to Germany's federal statistics agency Destatis. New orders in manufacturing were up by 0.5% in October compared to one month earlier.
In equities, London-listed Intu Properties was leading the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index, up by 20% after rival property development company Hammerson made an all-share offer to acquire Intu for approximately 3.4 billion pounds ($4.55 billion). Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and Genmab, a Danish biotechnology company, were 4.3% and 3.5% higher, respectively. German media company ProSiebenSat1 was up by 2.9% after outlining a plan to make more than 50 million euros ($59.2 million) of cost savings by 2019/2020.
Decliners on the index were led by Saga, a specialist insurance provider in Britain, down by 24.2% after saying that it expects underlying profit before tax for next year to be approximately 5% lower than the current year. London-listed Domino's Pizza Group was down by 5.8%, Paris-listed Elior Group, a catering and food service company, was 4.0% lower and British recruitment agency Hays was down by 3.7%.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index was 0.50% lower, London's FTSE 100 Index was down by 0.15%, Frankfurt's DAX was 0.86% lower and Paris' CAC-40 was down by 0.40% at the time of writing.