European stocks turned negative on Wednesday, surrendering early gains as a relief rally sparked by Italian Prime Minister's plan to step down petered out, with banks leading the retreat.

At 9:12 a.m., the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was down 0.7 percent at 976.82 points. Italy's FTSE MIB index <.FTMIB> was down 1.7 percent, reversing strong gains at the open.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson)