Stocks on the Continent are holding mostly lower, weighed down by very weak corporate updates coming from both sides of the Atlantic, even as investors wait on the results of the US central bank's policy meeting later in the day.
Investors were also digesting the somewhat mixed reports out overnight around the ongoing US-China trade talks, even as they tried to anticipate how the current impasse in the British Parliament might finally be broken – or not.

“Stocks are subdued this morning as traders look ahead to the Federal Reserve's announcement today, and the chatter about contradicting reports about the state of US-China trade negotiations is hanging over sentiment too. US and China trade talks will continue next week, and some dealers are getting nervous that they have been dragging on for some time now,” said CMC Markets UK's David Madden.

As of 1210 GMT, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was down by 0.41% to 382.73, alongside a drop of 1.23% to 11,642.90 for the German Dax as shares of Bayer crumbled after a court ruling in the US found that one of the herbicides it inherited as part of its Monsanto acquisition triggers cancer.

To take note of as well, some reports indicated that Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte's, governing coalition risked losing its one-seat majority in the country's Senate after a provincial vote later on Wednesday.

Losses elsewhere on the Continent were more muted, with the Cac-40 in Paris drifting lower by just 0.09% to 5,420.07 and Milan's FTSE Mibtel eking out a gain of 0.02% to 21,434.65.

There was little economic news out on Wednesday, although according to the German ministry of finance, the rate of increase in producer prices in the euro area's largest economy was steady versus the prior month at up by 2.6% year-on-year (consensus: 2.9%).

The Belgian central bank is scheduled to publish its consumer confidence index for the month of March at 1400 GMT.

Later in the day, the US Federal Reserve is set to publish its decision on interest rates at 1900 GMT, followed by a press conference by its Chairman.

Analysts appeared to be divided on just how 'dovish' US central bankers would prove to be, although as far as could be gleaned from Fed funds futures, financial markets had begun to price-in a small probability of a rate cut by the end of 2019.

Back on the corporate front, Switzerland's UBS was down by 2% after the head of the investment bank characterised conditions over the first three months of the year as some of the hardest for many years.

Speaking in London, the Swiss lender's chief, Sergio Ermotti, said that year-to-date revenues at its investment banking unit had declined by a third, amid a dearth of flotations and merger activity.

In other German news, BMW shares hit the skids after the company told shareholders to expect profits in 2019 to come in “well below” the prior year level and that it would launch a €12bn cost-savings drive in order to offset the hit from trade spats and investments in the electric car arena.

Further dampening sentiment on Wednesday morning, stock in US shipping giant FedEx was lower after warning of weakness overseas, particularly in Europe.

Sharecast