Stock markets fell Thursday, hit by concerns over a new transatlantic trade conflict as the US mulls tariffs on car imports and the decision by US President Donald Trump to call off a planned summit with North Korea.
While share prices in Frankfurt and Paris had been higher on bargain-hunting earlier in the day, markets were back in negative territory by mid-afternoon, pulled down by a weaker opening on Wall Street.
In New York, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6 percent.
London was showing a loss of 0.5 percent, Paris slipped by 0.2 percent and Frankfurt shed 0.7 percent.
The region's bourses had already fallen heavily on Wednesday after Trump said he was not satisfied with talks aimed at averting a trade war with China.
Comments by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who said he had initiated an investigation into whether auto imports "are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security", added to the sour sentiment.
Trading was "rather muted... as traders digest the overall impact of a host of geopolitical events, including revival of US-China trade tensions, aggressive North Korea rhetoric and President Trump taking a swipe at auto equipment makers," said Accendo Markets analyst, Artjom Hatsaturjants.
CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden said that while the sell-off on Wednesday had attracted some buying at the start of the session, the bounce back did not last long.
In Frankfurt, shares in carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen were hardest hit, as were French rivals Peugeot and Renault in Paris.
In London, news that official retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in April, lifting the pound.
A stronger pound weighs on share prices of multinationals listed in London that derive much of their earnings in dollars.
- Asia falters -
Most major Asian stock markets fell, with traders concerned about the China-US trade deal and Trump's looming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Investors went into selling mode despite minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting that showed the central bank was less hawkish on interest rates than previously thought.
The selling was in stark contrast to the start of the week when equities rallied on news that top officials from China and the United States had agreed to pull back from imposing levies on billions of dollars of goods.
The news averted a potentially damaging trade war -- for now.
However, Trump has since voiced his displeasure at that agreement and also raised the possibility that a historic summit Kim on June 12 could be delayed or called off.
A key aide to Kim on Thursday hit out at comments from Vice President Mike Pence and warned the talks could be cancelled.
Japan's Nikkei was the biggest loser, shedding more than one percent in the morning session as the haven yen surged against the dollar.
Adding to the downward pressure on the greenback were the Fed minutes, which showed it may be willing to let inflation run slightly higher and above its two percent target, as long as the spikes were temporary. The comments soothed worries about a sharp hike in borrowing costs, which have been needling markets for several months.
- Key figures around 1400 GMT -
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 24,736.89 points
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,747.97
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,552.51
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 12,882.55
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,526.44
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 22,437.01 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 30,760.41 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,154.65 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1732 from $1.1740
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3378 from $1.3406
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.18 yen from 109.67 yen
Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN $1.00 at $78.80 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.07 cents at $70.77