Weakness in the mining and industrial sectors pulled European benchmarks lower after the opening bell Friday, the final day of what has been an otherwise solid quarter for the continent.
The mining-heavy FTSE 100 led the decline in Europe, dropping by 0.37% within the first half hour of trading, to be quoted at 7,342. The CAC 40 fell 0.30% to 5,075 in Paris and the DAX slipped 0.10% to 12,243 in Frankfurt.
Political maneuvering overnight in South Africa was weighing down the FTSE 100, as companies with significant exposure to the country fell. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma fired finance minister Pravin Gordhan and eight other ministers as part of a late-night cabinet reshuffle Thursday in a bid to oust his critics.
The steepest losses were seen in shares of Anglo-South African financial group Old Mutual (ODMTY) , which lost more than 6% in he first hour of trading.
Miners were also feeling the pain from trouble in South Africa. Glencore (GLNCF) , Antofagasta (ANFGY) , Fresnillo (FNLPF) and Rio Tinto (RIO) were all present among the top fallers on London's FTSE 100 index.
Drinks company Diageo (DEO) , which has a large exposure to the African country, fell almost 2%.
Concerns over a looming meeting between the President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jingping, a stronger dollar and mixed commodity prices were hitting markets on Friday morning.
President Trump warned over Twitter late Thursday that next week's meeting between him and China's president will be difficult, setting the two on course for a collision over the trade deficit, China's alleged currency manipulation and concerns over state support for certain industries.
The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
"American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives," he added.
The statement coincided with a further recovery of the U.S. dollar, with the greenback gaining against many of its major counterparts, pushing the US dollar index up to 100.51.
Early in the trading session the EU issued its guidelines for Brexit negotiations, insisting that the U.K. must first leave the EU before trade talks can begin and saying any transitional period will be limited.
In Frankfurt the mining, steel and industrial firm Thyssenkrupp (TYEKF) fell to the bottom of the DAX after posting a 0.76% loss in early trading, followed closely behind by Commerzbank (CRZBY) , which saw its shares slip by just more than 0.50%.
In Paris, oil and gas engineer, Technip (TKPPY) was the biggest faller on the CAC, with a loss of 0.97%.
Consumer goods firm Danone (DANOY) was also found swimming in red ink after it said it has received competition clearance from U.S. authorities to go ahead with its $10.4 billion acquisition of organic food producer WhiteWave (WWAV) .