Stocks in Europe opened slightly lower on Wednesday as investor caution returned following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s vow to block an extension of EU trade talks beyond 2020, reviving fears of a cliff-edge Brexit.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 slipped 0.1 percent in early trade, basic resources falling 0.4 percent to lead losses while utilities bucked the trend to edge 0.2 percent higher.
Johnson on Tuesday used the power of his newly won parliamentary majority to set a hard deadline of December 2020 to reach a new trade deal with the EU, with the U.K. set to leave the bloc by January 31, in a bid to strong arm the bloc into hastening an accord.
Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday afternoon, with Japanese shares leading losses after data revealed a sharp fall in exports.
With a phase one U.S.-China trade deal now agreed, Reuters reported Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is finalizing a set of narrow rules limiting exports of sophisticated technology to China and other adversaries. U.S. tech companies may receive some reprieve having feared a more stringent crackdown.
In corporate news, Reuters reported late on Tuesday that the boards of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA had signed off on a proposed $50 billion merger to form the world’s fourth-largest automaker.
On the data front, German Ifo business climate surveys for December are due for publication at 9:00 a.m. London time, before a raft of U.K. inflation figures for November at 9:30 a.m. November euro area inflation data and October construction figures are due at 10:00 a.m.
European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde is due to speak at 8:30 a.m. London time on Wednesday.