European markets fell for the second consecutive day Wednesday amid concerns over the health of U.S. corporate earnings. Investors are also awaiting the release of the Federal Reserve's September meeting minutes for clues as to the timing of a possible increase in benchmark interest rates.
Markets and the pound were also weighed down by Brexit talk as the country's EU divorce drama took yet another turn after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May conceded some ground by agreeing to a debate among lawmakers before the exit clause from the European Union is triggered.
This minor step back from her government's hard-line Brexit talk helped boost the country's faltering currency, with the pound rebounding firmly in both Asia and London, reversing a string of losses and rising more than 1.4% against the US dollar earlier on Wednesday.
However, a debate in parliament over whether lawmakers would have a say on Brexit plans forced the currency back under $1.22. It was recently down 0.59% to $1.2195.
During her regular weekly question-and-answer session with lawmakers Wednesday, May vowed to allow "every opportunity" to debate the country's Brexit strategy, but stopped short of promising a House of Commons vote.
Benchmark yields on British government bonds, known as Gilts, which have been rising steadily since the summer, hit 1.06% Wednesday, the highest level since just after Britain's Brexit referendum vote in late June. In fact, Gilt yields, which move inversely to prices, have spiked by 30 basis points so far this month, rising in concert with a massive sell-off in the pound, which has fallen more than 18% against the US dollar on global foreign exchange markets.
In London, the FTSE 100 lost 0.66% to close at 7,024.01 and the FTSE 250 was down 0.65%, closing at 17,956.28. In Frankfurt, the DAX closed 0.56% down at 10,517.64 and the CAC 40 lost 0.51% to 4,448.80 in Paris.
Ericsson (ERIC - Get Report) fell 20% after it issued a profit warning. The Swedish telecoms equipment said third-quarter earnings will be "significantly lower" than expected, due in part to a 19% decline in sales at its mobile-network equipment business.
The announcement comes a week after the beleaguered company announced it would cut 20% of its domestic workforce.
Glencore (GLNCY) (GLCNF) , the world's biggest commodity trading group, led FTSE 100 advancers with a 5% rise in in London after company executives sounded a bullish note on Asian demand for coal at the Reuters Commodities Summit.
Thermal coals prices have risen by 69% so far in 2016, to reach a two-year high of $84.20 on recovering demand. The group may also have benefited from excitement over Reuters shipping data that showed it chartering an unusually large cargo vessel, with more than three times ordinary capacity, to transport gasoil from South Korea to an unknown destination.
In the mid-cap heavy FTSE 250, one of the day's biggest decliners was Domino's Pizza Group, the U.K. unit of the American food giant Domino's Pizza (DPZ - Get Report) , which saw its shares slide nearly 6% to 352.6 pence per share on the day despite revealing better-than-expected third-quarter sales and aggressive expansion plans.
Britain's biggest pizza delivery firm reported like-for-like sales grew 3.9% in its fiscal third quarter, which ended on Sept. 25, thanks to a surge in online orders. Digital channel sales rose by more than 18%, the company said, adding that more than 80% of its delivered sales were generated through online platforms such as Domino's mobile app.
- Martin Baccardax and James Skinner contributed to this report.