The major markets across Europe are poised to open slightly lower, taking cues from Wall Street, where the major indices declined as investors opted for profit taking following the biggest single-day gains since October 2008 on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 115.65 points or 1.5% at 7,660, the Nasdaq closed down 37.34 points or 2.4% at 1,518 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.58 points or 2% at 806.

The European markets ended Tuesday's session in positive territory,led by a rally among defensive stocks and comments by Deutsche Bank Chief Executive officer Josef Ackermann that the bank had a good start to 2009.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.18% higher at 741 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 0.15% to 1,832 points.

Around Europe, France's CAC 40 index rose 0.17% to 2,874 and Germany's DAX index surged up 0.26% to 4,187, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index slipped 1.05% to 3,911.

The major markets in Asian trading slipped on profit taking, as the euphoria over the U.S plan to deal with toxic assets seems to be vanishing. While the markets in Australia and Taiwan ended higher, Japan ended mixed and the other markets, including China and Hong Kong, declined.

Oil prices ended weaker in Asian trading ahead of the release of the U.S. weekly petroleum inventories report.

On the economic front, the markets might react to the German Ifo business confidence data slated for release at 5.00 A.M, ET. Business confidence is expected to fall to a historical low of 82.2 in March from 82.6 last month. The current conditions index is seen at 82.5 compared to 84.3 in February.

In corporate news, the largest clothing retailer in Europe, Inditex SA, may be in focus after the company reported sharply decline in quarterly profit for the three months ended January 2009, attributing slump in consumer demand as the primary reason.

The European Automotive Manufacturers Association is slated to release sales details of buses and trucks in the region for the latest month, and automobile stocks may see some activity following the release of the report.

GPC Biotech AG (GPCBY.PK) reported fourth-quarter net loss of ? 9.04 million, compared to a loss of ? 14.2 million in 2007. Loss per share was ? 0.25, compared with a loss of ? 0.38 in the year-ago quarter. Revenues decreased 99% to ? 31,000 from ? 2.09 million in the same quarter last year. For the full-year, net loss was ? 21.3 million, narrower than a loss of ? 73.6 million in the last year. Loss per share was ? 0.58, compared to a loss of ? 2.03 in 2007. Revenues decreased 31% to ? 12.4 million from ? 18 million in the previous year.

TUI Travel Plc. (TT.L) reported that its first quarter loss attributable to ordinary shareholders was £66.6 million, compared to a loss of £103 million in the year ago quarter. Loss before tax for the quarter narrowed to £88.6 million, from £140.4 million in the same quarter of last year. Underlying operating loss for the quarter narrowed to £34.9 million, from £63.3 in the same quarter of last year.

British bank HSBC Holdings Plc (HBC, HSBA.L) is likely to cut about 1,000 jobs in the U.K. in processing and operations and may close some administration sites, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the situation. London-based HSBC, which employs about 58,000 people in the U.K. and 330,000 worldwide, eliminated about 500 jobs in the U.K. in November and 1,100 positions at its global banking and markets unit in September last year.

Smiths Group PLC (SMIN.L) announced that Profit for the six months ended 31 January 2009 attributable to Smiths Group shareholders was £108.6 million or 27.7 pence per share, compared to £141.4 million or 36.0 pence per share in the year-ago period. Profit before taxation declined to £135.2 million from £165.4 million in the same period a year ago. Profit from continuing operations were £109 million or 27.7 pence per share, lower than £132.9 million or 33.8 pence per share a year ago. Revenue for the first half was £1.29 billion, up from £1.09 billion in the prior year period.

Melrose Resources Plc. (MRS.L) reported that its fiscal 2008 profit after tax was US$68.3 million or 61.8 cents per share, compared to a loss of US$63.2 million or 58.2 cents per share in the prior year. Profit before tax for the year was US$143.28 million, compared to a loss of US$54.99 million in the previous year. Revenues for the year increased to US$373.3 million, from US$158.2 million in the prior.

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