RTTNews - The European markets fell for the third day on Wednesday, as investors booked profits following recent strong gains.

In economic news, a report released by Automatic Data Processing, Inc. showed that U.S. non-farm private employment fell by 298,000 jobs in August following a revised decrease of 360,000 jobs in July. Economists had expected a decrease of about 246,000 jobs compared to the loss of 371,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in its report that orders for manufactured goods increased by 1.3% in July following a revised 0.9% increase in June. Economists had expected orders to increase by 2.2% compared to the 0.4% originally reported for the previous month.

The Eurozone economy contracted 0.1% sequentially in the second quarter, following a record 2.5% fall in the first quarter, Eurostat reported today. The statistical office thus confirmed the flash estimate released on August 13. The gross domestic product continued the stretch of fall that began in the second quarter of 2008. But the annual decline in GDP was revised to 4.7% from a 4.6%. In the first quarter, GDP had slipped 4.9%.

Crude for October delivery fell $0.12 to $67.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the time the European markets closed, despite a U.S. government report showing a drop in crude and gasoline supplies.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.39% lower at 950.41 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index advanced 0.08 point to 2,353.28 points.

Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index declined 0.04% to 4,817.55, while France's CAC 40 index slipped 0.29% to 3,573.13 and Germany's DAX index fell 0.14% to 5,319.84.

Banking stocks were among the biggest losers. Banco Santander, Spain's largest bank, slipped 2.8%, while UBS, Switzerland's biggest lender, fell 2% and Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain's second largest bank, dropped 4.5%. Societe Generale, France's third largest bank, lost 1.8%.

Insurance stocks slipped after the Association of British Insurers said the U.K. life-insurance industry may be forced to raise as much as £70 billion of fresh capital to comply with new European Union regulations. Prudential, Britain's biggest insurer, fell 2.1%, while Aviva, the second biggest, dropped 3.7% and Old Mutual, the third biggest, slipped 3%.

Elsewhere, Allianz, Europe's biggest insurer, declined 1.9%, while Axa, the second biggest, fell 2.2% and Dutch insurer Aegon lost 3.6%.

Mining stocks edged lower after copper prices declined. BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, slipped 1.7%, while Anglo American, the second biggest, fell 1.6% and copper miner Antofagasta dropped 3.3%.

Alcatel-Lucent, the the world's largest supplier of fixed-line phone networks, slumped 7.3% after the company said it was raising the initial amount of its convertible bond issue to ?870 million.

A.P. Moller-Maersk, owner of the world's largest container line, tumbled 8.15 after the company said it is going to sell up to 250,340 treasury B shares to both new and existing institutional investors.

On the other hand, BP, Europe's biggest oil company, surged up 4.3% after the company said it has made a giant oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico.

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