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European stocks push lower after data, Italian auction; Dax down 0.14%

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Shutterstock photo - European stocks pushed lower on Wednesday, as sentiment remained under pressure after the release of disappointing euro zone data and following the results of a highly watched Italian bond auction.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 dropped 0.62%, France's CAC 40 retreated 0.53%, while Germany's DAX 30 slipped 0.14%.

Italy saw the yield on three-year bonds rise to the highest level since December at the first auction of the country's debt since a one-notch downgrade by Fitch's ratings agency last week in the wake of inconclusive elections.

Italy's Treasury sold EUR3.32 billion worth of three-year government bonds at an average yield of 2.48%, up from 2.30% at a similar auction last month.

Earlier Wednesday, Eurostat said industrial production in the euro zone fell 0.4% in January from December, more than expectations for a 0.1% decline. The weaker-than-expected data reinforced concerns over the economic outlook for the region.

Financial stocks remained broadly lower, as shares in French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale dropped 0.93% and 1.31%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank plunged 1.84% and 8.08% respectively.

Peripheral lenders added to losses, with Spanish banks BBVA and Banco Santander retreating 0.39% and 1.02%, while Italy's Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo plummeted 1.66% and 2.38%.

Elsewhere, Inditex dove 3.43% after the company said net income rose 12% to EUR705 million in the three months through January, below analysts' estimates.

In London, FTSE 100 declined 1.05%, weighed by losses in financial stocks.

U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts lower, as shares in Lloyds Banking dropped 0.68% and Barclays tumbled 1.31%, while HSBC Holdings and the Royal Bank of Scotland plunged 1.40% and 1.68%.

Mining stocks also remained on the downside, as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto plummeted 1.89% and 1.92%, while Eurasian Natural Resources declined 2.62%.

In addition, copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys extended earlier losses, sliding 1.41% and 4.26% respectively.

Meanwhile, Direct Line Insurance Group plunged 2.66% after the Royal Bank of Scotland announced plans to sell a GBP530 million stake in the U.K. home and motor insurer.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.21% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.21% decline, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.20% loss.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release government data on retail sales, as well as official data on import prices, business inventories and crude oil stockpiles. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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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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