European stocks were steady to lower in light trade on Wednesday, as markets took a breather after the recent rally in European equity markets due to recent comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.22%, France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.21%, while Germany’s DAX eased 0.07%.

Investors remained cautious as Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, later Tuesday amid growing tensions in the region.

Earlier Wednesday, data showed that the Gfk German consumer climate index fell to 8.6 this month, from a reading of 9.0 in July. Analysts had expected the index to remain unchanged in August.

The weak data added to speculation that the ECB could implement fresh easing measures to bolster growth, after ECB President Mario Draghi said at Jackson Hole last week that the central bank is ready to take more unconventional action if needed to stimulate a sluggish euro zone economy.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) rose 0.31% and 0.50%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) jumped 0.97%.

Among peripheral lenders however, Italy's Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) and Intesa Sanpaolo added 0.04% and 0.39% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) edged up 0.09% and 0.24%.

Elsewhere, Telecom Italia (MILAN:TLIT) surged 3.11% after Brazil's Oi SA (SA:OIBR3) said it is reviewing options for buying a stake in Tim Participacoes SA (SA:TIMP3).

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 inched up 0.02%, supported by gains in the mining sector.

Shares in Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) rose 0.28% and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) climbed 0.54%, while Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) advanced 0.65% and Randgold Resources (LONDON:RRS) rallied 1.01%.

In the financial sector, stocks were also mostly lower. The Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) edged up 0.08% and Barclays (LONDON:BARC) added 0.20%, while Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) rose 0.22%. HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) underperformed however, shedding 0.26%.

On the downside, United Utilities Group (LONDON:UU) plummeted 1.65% after Bank of America and RBC Capital Markets downgraded the stock.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.06% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.03% uptick, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.04% rise.






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