European stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday as concerns continue about the likelihood of a deep global recession.
The European Commission called on Wednesday for a EU-wide fiscal stimulus package worth 200 billion euros ($US259.3 billion). It followed the latest rescue package by the US Federal Reserve.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed down 0.33% at 830.58 points. On Tuesday it was up by 0.6% and nearly 9% on Monday.
The index is down 44.6% to date this year due to the credit crisis and the global economic slowdown.
Utility stocks were the worst performing sector: GDF Suez, E.ON and Gas Natural were down between 2.5% - 5.5%.
Energy shares were also down: BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Tullow Oil shed between 1.5% - 5.8%.
In Britain, the FTSE 100 closed 18.56 points lower at 4,152.69. More than 1.1 billion shares changed hands. The index gained more than 10% in the previous two sessions but is still down more than 35% for the year to date.
Trading in shares of Woolworths Group was suspended on Wednesday as talks to save the 99-year-old retailer from collapse continued.
In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 4,560.5 points, up 0.08 points. In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 3,169.85 points, down 39.71 or 1.24%.
The Swiss market index closed at 5,498.56 points, up 20.17 or 0.37 percent.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei average fell 1.33 to 110.71 points at 8,213.22.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ended up 490.85 points at 13,369.45.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index lost 83.4 points to close at 3,540.0.
At 1615 on Wednesday, the S&P/ASX200 index was down 83.4 points, or 2.3%, at 3540.0, while the All Ordinaries dropped 95.8 points, or 2.68% to 3479.6.
NZ market up slightly
In New Zealand, the NZX 50 rallied slightly, up 3 points at the close to 2638 on turnover of $70 million.
Telecom was up 8 cents to $2.36 and Contact Energy rose 12c to $6.74.
Fletcher Building slid 11c to $5.57 after cancelling plans to buy Fielders Australia. Nuplex fell 42c to $3.40 after issuing a profit warning on Tuesday.
Sanford was down 5c to $5.35 after its full-year profit more than doubled to $53.3 million due to high fish prices and asset sales.
ING Property Trust was down 1c to 62c after operating earnings rose 9% to $39.4 million.