LONDON (TheDeal) -- European markets fell again on Tuesday with literally hours to go until "D" Day for Greece -- "D" as in a default on its €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) International Monetary Fund bill due at midnight.
If Greece misses the witching hour deadline as widely feared, that will push it into uncharted territory and outside the formal protection of Europe's bailout program. Then it's another four days of nail-biting until Sunday's unprecedented national referendum, which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is billing as an austerity vote but leaders in Germany and France see as a vote for or against staying in the euro.
Benchmark indices were down across the region, with the FTSE 100 shedding 0.79% to 6,567.95 in London, the DAX 0.69% lower at 11,007.03 in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 backpedalling 0.64% to 4,838.86 in Paris.
With the growing danger of a "Grexit," investors paid little heed to positive economic news from Europe's biggest economies. In Germany, the number of jobless fell for a ninth straight month to a seasonally adjusted 2.79 million, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 6.4%, the Federal Labor Agency in Nuremberg said on Tuesday.
And in the U.K., the Office for National Statistics said first-quarter GDP rose by 0.4% rather than an original estimate of 0.3%, while market research firm GfK reported that consumer confidence rose to its highest level in more than 15 years.
Despite the dark clouds hovering over investor sentiment, there were some corporate silver linings keeping things interesting.
In London, Carpetright (CGHXF) advanced 5.68% after the maker of floor coverings and beds posted higher profits for the year ended May 2, 2015. Underlying pretax profit soared 182.6%, pushing earnings per share up 191.5%.
Imagination Technologies (IMGTY) gained 3.3% after the maker of chips for Apple (AAPL) gadgets gave a positive outlook for fiscal 2016, predicting a rise in profitability in the year ahead and operating margins to expand in the medium-term with a longer-term target of 30% to 40%. The rosy forecast was especially welcome after the company posted a pre-tax loss of £11.95 million, up from a loss of £314,000 a year earlier.
Among decliners, online food retailer Ocado (OCDGF) fell 1.8% amid a prediction the grocery market outlook remains subdued despite the more positive outlook for broader economic growth in the U.K. The stock pared initial gains after positing an 18.2% rise in half-year sales. The company said it's in advanced discussions with several international partners to adopt its Ocado Smart technology platform, with hopes of signing a first agreement later this year.
In Paris, spirits producer Pernod Ricard (PDRDY) was down 1.18%. The maker of Absolut vodka and Seagram's Gin predicted that growth would slow this year mainly because of a volatile environment in Russia. But so far in Poland, sales have been broadly stable in a volatile environment, enabling the company to grow its key brands, it said.
Some telecom stocks fell on news of an early-morning EU agreement to end roaming charges across the 28-nation block from June 2017 onwards and to introduce new net neutrality rules. Telekom Austria (TKAGY) shed 2.6% in Vienna, while Telefónica (TEF) fell 0.15% in Madrid.
Asian stocks were back in positive territory Tuesday, with the Hang Seng rising 1.09% to 26,250.03 in Hong Kong and the Nikkei climbing 0.63% to 20,235.73 in Tokyo.