Investing.com - European stock markets were mixed on Wednesday, as investors remained concerned over the euro zone’s debt crisis ahead of a series of Italian debt auctions later in the day.
During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 eased up 0.03%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.37%, while Germany’s DAX 30 declined 0.42%.
While markets in the U.K. returned after an extended holiday break, most investors were already away on year-end leave, resulting in low trading volumes and subdued trade.
Italy was scheduled to sell EUR9 billion euros of 179-day bills and EUR2.5 billion euros of zero-coupon 2013 securities later Wednesday.
Ahead of the auctions, markets were jittery as the yield on Italy’s ten-year bonds remained close to the 7% threshold, a level widely considered unsustainable and above which other euro zone governments had been forced to seek bailouts.
Financial stocks led losses as shares in Germany’s Deutsche Bank tumbled 2.20% and Dutch lender ING Group dropped 1.95%, while France’s Societe Generale and Credit Agricole plummeted 1.95% and 1.87% respectively.
Peripheral lenders were also broadly lower with Italian Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo declining 1.14% and 0.20%, while Spanish BBVA and Banco Santander retreated 0.76% and 0.55%.
Meanwhile, French group Carrefour slid 0.29% after selling and leasing back 97 supermarket sites in France.
In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 rose 0.28%, despite sharp losses in the mining sector.
Mining giants Rio Tinto and Bhp Billiton declined 1.19% and 0.83%, while copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys tumbled 2.14% and 1.13% respectively.
Financial stocks were also broadly lower as shares in Lloyds Banking plunged 1.56% and the Royal Bank of Scotland dropped 1.02%, while Barclays and HSBC Holdings slumped 0.77% and 0.38%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a mixed open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a rise of 0.07%, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.02% fall, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.05% gain.
Italy was also scheduled to auction EUR8.5 billion euros of debt due in 2014, 2018, 2021 and 2022 on Thursday.