LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock markets opened lower on Wednesday, following Asia's lead after lower-than-expected consumer price figures from China rattled investors.
Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 fell just over 1% to 9,927.57 and 4,593.85, respectively. In London the FTSE 100 proved only marginally more resistant, falling 0.82% to 6,289.08.
Evidence of a further slowdown in the Chinese economy set the tone for the markets. The Chinese inflation rate, as measured by the consumer price index, declined to 1.6%, the National Bureau of Statistics said, below forecasts of a 1.8% rate and down from 2% in August. China's producer price index, which measures wholesale prices, fell for the 43rd consecutive month, declining 5.9%, in line with expectations.
"The inflation figures ... highlight deflationary pressures that raise questions about China's ability to achieve 7% growth," noted analysts at Saxo Bank AS. "The Chinese statistics and the wait for company results are fueling risk aversion."
A crowded day of economic figures out of Europe appears unlikely to lift the gloom in the market nor, thankfully, add to it either. French consumer prices rose seasonally adjusted 0.1%, year-on-year, as expected, while Spanish consumer prices were down 1.1% year-on-year. There was better news out of Britain, where unemployment fell to 5.4% for the three months to August, down from 5.5% over the previous three-month period. Brussels will shortly chip in, when the EU publishes industrial production figures.
German real estate group Vonovia was the biggest faller in Frankfurt, losing more than 4% after announcing plans to bid €14 billion ($15.95 billion) for local rival Deutsche Wohnen, which is itself bidding €4.62 billion for smaller rival LEG Immobilien. Wohnen shares climbed 1.67% to €24.54 in early trading, leaving them at a slim discount to Vonovia's offer of €25.86 per share. LEG shares fell 3.9%.
Fund manager Hargreaves Lansdown (HRGLF) led the FTSE 100 gainers, climbing 6.47% after reporting a 47% increase in new business inflows for the third quarter compared to the same quarter last year.
Shares in drinks maker Diageo(DEO) - Get Report fell just over 1% after it agreed to offload the majority of its U.S. and U.K. wine assets to Australia's Treasury Wine Estates for $600 million. Treasury said it will buy U.S. brands including Beaulieu Vineyards, Sterling Vineyards and Acacia, to provide mass to its state-side operations.
In Asia, China's economic weakness weighed heavily on steel makers and industrial manufacturers. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (NISTF) , Nippon Light Metal Holdings and Sumitomo Heavy Industries all fell more than 5%.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 led the league table of Asian market fallers, declining 1.89% to 17891. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.95% to 22384.92, while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.93% to 3262.44.