European stocks held onto modest gains into the close of trading Tuesday amid a major sell-off in global crude markets ahead of crucial meeting of OPEC members Wednesday in Vienna.

Oil fell sharply in European trading following reports that Iran would refuse to co-operate with the 14-member cartel on production cuts and that Russia would not attend the Vienna gathering. 

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for January delivery, which had been falling for much of the European session, fell sharply on the report, taking prices 3.39% lower to $45.03 per barrel by 16:30 GMT. Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, also declined, falling 3.3% to $48.11 per barrel.

The sharp declines held down gains for Britain's FTSE 100, which is heavily weighted with energy and mining stocks, with the benchmark slipping 0.5% by the end of the trading day. Germany's DAX performance index, however, added around 0.3%, lead by gains for utilities and financials. France's CAC-40 closed around 0.9% higher on the session.

Actelion (ALIOY) shares were the most active in the European market Tuesday, falling as much as 7% early in the session following reports that the Swiss biotech is looking at strategies that would keep it independent in the face of a reported $17 billion approach from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) .

However, a Bloomberg report that followed said J&J was prepared to increase its $17 billion offer, with the news pushing the shares 9.3% higher to Sfr20.74 each. J&J declined to comment when contacted by TheStreet, and instead referred to its November 25 statement that confirmed it was in preliminary talks with Actelion but could offer "no assurance any transaction will result from these discussions."

Eurozone bond markets were also active Tuesday, with benchmark 10-year Italian bond yields falling 10 basis points to 1.97% following a report from Reuters that suggested the European Central Bank was prepared to increase the amount of Italian debt it buys as part of its quantitative easing program if a 'No' vote in Sunday's constitutional referendum ignites unwanted volatility in regional debt markets.

Broader eurozone bond moves, however, mirrored developments in U.S. Treasury markets, with benchmark 10-year yields from Germany rising 2 basis points to 0.22% and Treasuries marked at 2.33%.

Currency markets, however, saw little movement throughout the session as the U.S. dollar index held firm at 101.19 and the European single currency closed marginally lower at 1.0610. The pound, however, gained 0.65% against the greenback to end the day at 1.2495 .

More from Markets

Dow Tumbles as Trump Calls Off North Korea Summit

Dow Tumbles as Trump Calls Off North Korea Summit

3 Must Reads on the Market From TheStreet's Top Columnists

3 Must Reads on the Market From TheStreet's Top Columnists

Automakers Slump as Trump Tariffs Threaten Both Manufacturers and Consumers

Automakers Slump as Trump Tariffs Threaten Both Manufacturers and Consumers

Jim Cramer: Does Saudi Arabia Think Oil Prices Are Too High?

Jim Cramer: Does Saudi Arabia Think Oil Prices Are Too High?

Stocks Could Easily Crater Into Memorial Day Weekend

Stocks Could Easily Crater Into Memorial Day Weekend