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Europe: Stocks decline as investors weigh outlook, watch Yellen

European shares rose on Wednesday after reaching 2015 lows as a bruising quarter ended, with a Chinese tax cut boosting automakers while miner Glencore rallied after saying it had no solvency issues.

[FRANKFURT] European stocks declined as investors considered global growth prospects before a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that may further clarify the central bank's thinking on a US rate increase this year.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index retreated 0.5 per cent to 345.39 at 8:26 am in London.

Stocks ended Wednesday little changed as investors weighed signs that the region's economy is recovering against European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's comments that the ECB needs time to consider if risks to the outlook warrant a step-up in stimulus.

Global equities and commodities have oscillated since the Fed held rates on Sept 17, citing concerns about the pace of inflation and the impact of a slowdown in China. Odds of a hike at the Fed's next meeting in October are at 18 per cent, according to Fed funds futures, while the probability of an increase at the December gathering is about 43 per cent.

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Economic data will also be in focus today, with a measure of German business confidence in September estimated by economists to show a decline from the previous month.

Seadrill Ltd. slid 3.3 per cent, leading a measure of energy companies to the worst performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600. Auto-related stocks extended their rebound, led by Volkswagen AG, which gained 5 per cent. PSA Peugeot Citroen SA climbed 2.5 per cent.