European Markets Close Lower As Conflicting Reports Circulate Regarding Third Bailout for Greece

European markets closed lower on Tuesday after conflicting reports emerged on the Internet regarding whether or not eurozone countries were considering a third bailout for indebted Greece.

Some reports cited comments made by Spain's economy minister apparently indicating that ministers from Eurozone countries had been talking about a possible rescue plan for the country; however, European Union officials were reported to have rebutted this, purportedly saying that there were no such talks.

Greece's newly elected government last week secured approval for a bridging loan just days before its existing bailout arrangement was due to come to an end.

Investors also are being cautious ahead of an European Central Bank meeting on Thursday. Some are hoping to see more on the scope of the ECB's asset purchase program.

Some selling also emerged after Ukraine's central bank surprised markets and said it was jacking up its refinancing rate to 30% from 19.5% on Wednesday as part of a package of measures aimed at stabilizing the country's financial system.

All those factors outweighed data released by research organization Markit Economics on Tuesday showing the UK experienced the sharpest expansion of construction activity in four months, according to the Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI Index.

UK construction companies saw the fastest increase in new orders since October 2014 with higher levels of activity reported in all three sub-categories of construction work, and residential activity again seeing the steepest rate of growth. The Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose a full point to 60.1, defying expectations for a slight fall to 59.0 and reaching its highest level since October.

Separately. Germany posted a stronger-than-expected 2.9% rise in retail sales in January.

In company news, FTSE 100-listed pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca ( AZN ), whose American depository receipts trade on the New York Stock Exchange, announced that it has completed the transaction to acquire the rights to Actavis' ( ACT ) branded respiratory business in the US and Canada.

On completion of the acquisition, AstraZeneca is paying Actavis $600 million of initial consideration and agreed to pay low single-digit royalties above a certain revenue threshold. The company has also paid Actavis an additional $100 million for a number of contractual consents and approvals, including certain amendments to the ongoing collaboration agreements between AstraZeneca and Actavis.

The FTSE 100 ended down 0.74%, the DAX down 1.14% and the CAC-40 down 0.98%.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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