European stocks close little changed as Italy woes linger, RPC plummets 12%

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European stocks closed little changed Wednesday, with trade greatly impacted by concerns over fiscal spending in Italy.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally neutral with sectors and major bourses mixed.

Italy’s FTSE MIB, which was under pressure Tuesday, recovered on Wednesday, rising 0.26 percent. New Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte presented his coalition’s plans to crackdown on immigration and up welfare spending while cutting taxes on Tuesday.

In stocks news, the media company Schibsted was up by 4.5 percent after a rating upgrade. And WH Smith rose to the top of the index, with shares up by almost 7.5 percent after reporting a 4 percent increase in sales in the 13-weeks to June 2. Growth in its travel business helped to offset a decline in high-street sales.

At the other end, RPC Group plummeted almost 12 percent after announcing the sale of several non-core assets.

Overall market sentiment was influenced by politics but also comments from central bankers.

The ECB’s Chief Economist Peter Praet said the bank will discuss next week how to wind down its 30 billion euro monthly-purchase program — the first step towards policy normalization.

Also, world trade continues to dominate the agenda. On Tuesday, it was announced that U.S. lawmakers intend to introduce legislation that would force President Donald Trump to obtain approval from Congress before tariffs on national security grounds can be imposed.

Meanwhile, Trump met with trade advisors Tuesday to discuss the possibility of China importing an additional $70 billion of U.S. goods — the next step in diffusing a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

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