European Stocks Flat to Mixed at Greek Crunch Time; Global Growth Slows

LONDON (TheDeal) -- European stocks were mixed on Wednesday amid another crunch meeting on Greece, and as U.K. services growth registered its weakest pace in five months. Mining stocks fell in London on oversupply worries.

In London, the FTSE 100 was little changed at 6,924.89, while in the CAC 40 held steady at 5,003.69, and the DAX inched up 0.44% to 11,378.60 in Frankfurt.

Investors were awaiting the outcome of Wednesday's Brussels tête-à-tête between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on a final proposal from creditors to stave off a Greek default. Greek investors were in a more buoyant buying state of mind, sending the Athens Stock Exchange Index up 2.95%.

Later in the day Wednesday, there may also be comments on Greece from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi at a Frankfurt early afternoon press conference immediately following the monetary policy meeting.

"Draghi is probably losing patience like everyone else, and we can expect more tough words on Wednesday," wrote economist Frederik Ducrozet of Crédit Agricole in a morning note. "In the end, we still believe that the ECB will maintain liquidity access for Greek banks as long as negotiations are moving in the right direction." He also expects the ECB to stay the course on monetary policy, underscoring its firm commitment to quantitative easing.

As the next act of Europe's ongoing Greek drama plays out, investors were digesting the latest data on the U.K. and global economies. In the U.K., Markit Economics's services output index slowed to 56.5 in May from 59.5 in April, its steepest decline since August 2011 and now the weakest level in five months. But the report noted that expansion remains strong as firms reported lower business uncertainty after last month's election.

Separately on Wednesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is now predicting 3.1% global growth this year, below last November's 3.6% forecast, as weak investment in many economies hinders an increase in consumption, job creation and wage rises.

In London, mining stocks were among the biggest decliners after a warning from BHP Billiton (BHP) CEO Andrew Mackenzie. At an industry conference in Canberra, Australia, he warned that oversupply will continue to weigh on prices for some time.

Fresnillo (FNLPF) was down 2.05%, Anglo American (AAUKY) 2% lower and BHP retreated 1.95%.

Among other decliners, Dixons Carphone (DSITY) retreated 1.34% after the electronics and telecommunications retailer raised its yearly profit guidance on better-than-expected quarterly results.

The company, formed from last year's merger between Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse, said it's now expecting underlying pretax profit to be slightly above the top end of the previously guided range of £355 million to £375 million. Like-for-like revenue was up 9% in the fourth quarter, led by a 13% gain in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Elsewhere in the region, there was plenty of positive corporate momentum pushing stocks up.

Steelmaker Voestalpine (VLPNF) climbed more than 4% in Vienna on full-year earnings that came in above expectations. The Linz-based supplier to German carmakers including Volkswagen (VLKAY) also announced plans to raise its dividend and said it expects further improvement in the year ahead in operating result as well as EBIT.

In Zurich, Credit Suisse (CS) rose 2.16% on a ratings upgrade from RBC Capital ahead of an expected strategic shift when Tidjane Thiam takes the reins as CEO next month.

And in Benelux, Dutch food retailer Royal Ahold (AHONY) was up 3.43% while its smaller Belgian peer Delhaize (DEG) climbed 6.24% amid continued talks over merger that Bloomberg News reported could come as soon as the end of this month. 

More from Markets

Tesla Jumps on Model 3 Expansion Hopes, China Trade Truce

Tesla Jumps on Model 3 Expansion Hopes, China Trade Truce

Apple Gains as U.S. China Trade Tensions Ease After Weekend Summit

Apple Gains as U.S. China Trade Tensions Ease After Weekend Summit

Global Stocks Rally as US-China Trade War Thaws; Dow Could Test 25,000

Global Stocks Rally as US-China Trade War Thaws; Dow Could Test 25,000

Video: There Are Some Big Changes Coming to the PGA Championships in 2019

Video: There Are Some Big Changes Coming to the PGA Championships in 2019

Video: One-on-One With Pluralsight's CEO Following Its Successful IPO

Video: One-on-One With Pluralsight's CEO Following Its Successful IPO