European stocks trimmed early losses and briefly turned flat in morning trade on Tuesday, as appetite from mining and defensive stocks offset a drop in banking shares, hit by nagging worries over Southern European countries' debt problems.

At 8:23 a.m., the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was down 0.3 percent at 972.79 points after briefly turning flat.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson)