LONDON (TheDeal) -- Continued worries about a Greek debt default weighed on European markets on Tuesday as the continent's main markets also got their first chance to react to progress made by challenger parties in elections in Spain and Poland over the weekend.
In Greece, a government spokesman said the country would continue to repay its debts, a day after spooking markets by saying it won't be able to do so. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday ruled out further crippling austerity measures in an article penned for Il Sole 24 Ore, while insisting his government is committed to reforms. Repayments totaling €1.6 billion ($1.75 billion) fall due to the International Monetary Fund next month.
In Spain, anti-corruption and anti-austerity parties, including Podemos, made headway in municipal elections in Madrid and Barcelona, while in Poland Andrzej Duda, from the right-wing Law and Justice party, defeated the incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, from the center-right Civic Platform, in presidential elections. Polish parliamentary elections take place in the fall.
In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.52% at 6,995.08. In Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.67% at 11,735.82, and in Paris, the CAC 40 fell 0.22% to 5,106.12. All three markets were closed for a public holiday on Monday.
In Warsaw, the WIG 20 was down 0.62%, while the Spanish Stock Exchanges' Ibex 35 was down 0.54%.
The Athens Stock Exchange General Index was up 0.59%.
U.S. durable goods data for April will provide the focal point for European markets in the afternoon session.
Discount airline Ryanair Holdings (RYAAY - Get Report) rose sharply in Dublin and London after posting full-year profit ahead of expectations as a marketing program designed to woo back customers and shrug off its money-grubbing image appeared to pay dividends.
Aer Lingus (AIRXY) also rose after the Irish prime minister said he would discuss the sale of the state's 25% stake at a cabinet meeting today. Aer Lingus has agreed in principle to a €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) bid from International Consolidated Airlines (ICAGY) and expectations are mounting that the government will sell its stake.
In Paris, state-controlled nuclear plant maker Areva (ARVCF) fell sharply on news Electricite de France has offered about €2 billion ($2.2 billion) for the reactor and engineering businesses in a deal which would make cash-strapped Areva a subsidiary of the utility.
Cable investor Altice (ATCEY) edged lower in Amsterdam on confirmation that Charter Communications (CHTR - Get Report) has won the bidding for Time Warner Cable (TWC) with a $55 billion offer. Altice was widely reported to be preparing a Time Warner Cable bid. Charter is backed by Altice founder Patrick Drahi's role model and rival John Malone.
In Seoul, construction company Samsung C&T (SSGFF) closed up 14.8% on news of an offer from another entity of the Lee family's Samsung (SSNLF). Cheil Industries, a fashion, leisure and construction company, will offer 0.35 of a share for each share in Samsung C&T, valuing the company at about W8.9 trillion ($8 billion). Cheil also closed up just under 15%.
In Sydney, Fortescue Metals closed up 10.6% after Australian Financial Review reported that Chinese parties had lodged takeover interest with the Foreign Investment Review Board. The iron ore miner said it is "not aware of FIRB applications by third parties and is in compliance with its continuous disclosure obligations."
Chinese indices continued to benefit from enthusiasm generated by a government announcement on Monday that it will seek private capital for a $300 billion infrastructure program, and by news of a reciprocal easing of retail investment restrictions in Hong Kong and mainland China.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed up 0.92% at 28,249.86, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed up 2.02% at 4,910.90.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.12% at 20,437.38 and the Topix closed little changed, up 0.3% at 1,659.57.