Most European markets fell Wednesday as investors remained watchful waiting for the euro zone policymakers to come up with stimulus measures to rejuvenate the faltering economy.
The French CAC 40 index was marginally down 0.03 percent or 1 point to 3430.50. Shares of Vivendi SA fell 1.32 percent and shares of Accor SA declined 0.87 percent.
London’s FTSE 100 index dropped 0.31 percent or 17.85 points to 5757.86. Shares of Rio Tinto PLC fell 2.04 percent and shares of Kazakhmys PLC declined 1.18 percent.
The German DAX 30 index marginally fell 0.04 percent or 2.47 points to 7000.21. Shares of SAP AG dropped 0.68 percent and shares of Metro AG declined 0.31 percent.
Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.17 percent or 12.80 points to 7346.30. Shares of Bankia SA rose 0.77 percent and shares of Repsol SA advanced 0.65 percent.
According to reports, Spain's Catalonia has asked for financial assistance of five billion euros ($6.2 billion) from the Spanish government. This has increased investors' concerns about the deepening economic instability in the euro zone, which were earlier revived after the National Statistics Institute reported Monday that Spain's economy contracted 0.3 percent in 2010 and grew 0.4 percent in 2011. The Spanish government has estimated that the country's economy will contract 1.5 percent in 2012.
Government bond markets in Spain and Italy both came under renewed pressure Tuesday, with 10-year yields rising by around 10 basis points. Meanwhile, the ECB President Mario Draghi has cancelled his speech at Jackson Hole this Saturday. The news came as a disappointment to investors who had expected some clarity on the ECB's plans.
Draghi's pledge last month to "do whatever it takes" to save the euro has yet to be translated into action. Investors feel that bold measures from the ECB, including easing in the monetary policy, are urgently needed to boost liquidity in the global financial system. A re-launch of the ECB's bond-buying program is the absolute minimum to be expected.