European shares were barely changed at the open as trade talks between China and the U.S. make little progress as the deadline for tariffs approaches. Investors will be looking at Spain as new elections may be called later in the morning.
The Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.1 percent, with auto shares leading the decliners as European car sales dropped in January, signaling a tough year ahead for the industry. Scout24 AG soared 11 percent as the German online classified ads company agreed to a higher bid from two private-equity firms.
Trade talks are set to wind up Friday in Beijing, with the two sides reported to be far apart on reform demands. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said meetings were productive without providing further details.
“The uncertainty on trade remains although there is still margin for an agreement and the market moves in the short term on each headline that comes out of the talks,” said Ruben de la Torre, senior portfolio manager at Andbank Wealth Management. “But the overall positive tone of markets in this start of the year remains.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called an extraordinary cabinet meeting and will make a statement at 10 a.m., amid expectations he calls early elections after he failed to pass his budget in Parliament earlier this week.