Europe close: Geopolitical tensions dent advance in stocks
Stocks were still trading on their back foot come midday, but had come off their worst levels, as financial markets girded themselves for a White House press conference scheduled for later in the evening.
The US President was expected to outline Washington's response to China's decision to clampdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.
"Today’s press conference could well up the ante further, if President Trump signs off on that bill as well as implementing further measures that might hint that the US is keen to send the Chinese a message," said CMC Markets UK's chief market analyst, Michael Hewson.
By the end of trading, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was down 1.44% to 350.36, alongside a 1.65% drop for the German Dax to 11,586.85 while the FTSE Mibtel was off by 0.84% to 18,197.56.
In parallel, euro/dollar was adding 0.17% to 1.1096 and the yield on the benchmark 10-year German bund had drifted three basis points lower to -0.45%.
Front month Brent crude oil was also under slight selling pressure, giving back 1.28% to $34.84 a barrel on ICE.
In economic news, all eyes were on the latest euro area consumer price figures, with Eurostat reporting a dip in the year-on-year rate of headline inflation from 0.3% for April to 0.1% in May, as expected.
That was only marginally better than a deflationary reading; however, core CPI held up better than expected and was unchanged from April's pace of 0.9% on an annual basis.
On a more positive note, the rate of growth in euro area money supply picked up from a 7.5% pace for March to 8.3% in April (consensus: 8.2%).
And in Germany, the ministry of finance reported a much better than feared 5.3% on the month decline in retail sales for April (consensus: -12%), although in France data on household consumption revealed a 20.2% fall (consensus: -14.7%).