European benchmarks slipped on Tuesday as investors eased off the gas amid multiple distractions, ranging from a pending Fed decision to Brexit and French politics.
The internationally diversified FTSE 100 fell by 0.13%, to 7,356 in London, while the domestically weighted FTSE 250 slumped by 0.41%, to 18,951, pulling back from record levels.
In Paris the CAC 40 index dropped by 0.51%, to 4,974, while in Frankfurt the DAX slid by 0.01%, to close at 11,988.
Over in Southern Europe the IBEX fell by 0.91% in Madrid while the FTSE MIB in dropped 0.86% in Milan.
Commodity stocks were broadly weaker with oil majors leading the way down in response to the latest OPEC report, which showed nine members still producing above their post-cut target levels.
The large diversified miners were also weak throughout the Tuesday session despite stronger than expected industrial production and fixed asset investment figures having emerged from China before the opening bell.
Added to the mix was a pending decision on U.S. rates from the Federal Open Market Committee and news that the more moderate of conservative candidates in the French election has been placed under a formal judicial investigation.
Former Prime Minister Frances Fillon has been accused of misusing public funds while in office. It is just the latest in a series of scandals to rock his political campaign. Should he be forced from the electoral race, nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen would be left unopposed on the conservative side of the aisle.
Le Pen would then go head to head with centrist front-runner Emmanuel Macron, who is widely favored to win the presidential race that spans late April and early May, alongside a small number of fringe candidates.
U.K. stocks were hit by the passing of legislation in parliament that allows Prime Minister Theresa May to commence the formal process that will eventually see Britain exit the European Union.
Marks & Spencer stock slipped as investors weighed both the short- and long-term implications of it having called time on its expansion in China. It recently announced the closure of all high-street stores in the nation.
Both RBS and Standard Life were victims of the day's Brexodus, with investors paring back their exposure to financial stocks, in anticipation that the U.K. government will soon get the process of leaving the EU under way.
In Germany, sports clothing retailer Adidas (ADDYY) was among the biggest fallers after an investor day and earnings from competitor Nike (NKE) - Get NIKE, Inc. Class B Reportleft some investors questioning whether its foray into North America will work out quite the way it plans.
On the flipside, losses were countered in part by utility RWE (RWEOY) , which saw its stock rise more than 5%.
It reported full-year ebitda that was in line with the consensus on Tuesday, but beat expectations for net income and earnings per share. It also caught shareholders by surprise when it delivered bullish guidance for the 2017 year.
Additionally, the German utility said in response to speculation that France's Engie (ENGIY) could be about to make a bid for its subsidiary Inogy, that the company has the flexibility to sell down its 77% stake so that it falls as low as 51%.