(Reuters) – European stocks edged lower in quiet trading on Wednesday, as tensions heightened between the United States and China ahead of their crucial trade negotiations, while more uncertainty over Britain’s EU exit also weighed on sentiment.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index (STOXX) was down 0.2% by 0707 GMT, with most country indexes flat to slightly lower.
Tariff-sensitive auto stocks (SXAP) lost 0.5%, while the technology sector shed 0.4%.
Washington’s move to impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials late on Tuesday aggravated worries after the addition of more Chinese companies to a U.S. trade blacklist, making investors skeptical of a quick resolution to the protracted trade war.
Talks between the world’s top two economies are set to resume on Thursday.
Beating the negative market trend, Britain’s FTSE 100 (FTSE) was slightly higher, as shares of export-heavy companies benefited from a softer pound.
Sterling’s weakness was linked to reports that talks between Britain and the European Union were close to breaking down without an exit deal.
Companies with upbeat earnings reports were leading gains on the benchmark index. British bookmaker GVC (L:GVC) rose 3.2%, after raising its full-year core earnings forecast.
Dutch online food delivery company Takeaway.com gained 3.4%, after reporting an 87% increase in third-quarter orders.
Rivals Just Eat (L:JE) and Delivery Hero (DE:DHER) rose 2.6% and 0.3%, respectively.