Europe's main stock markets fell on Tuesday, mirroring fresh losses in Asia, with the mining sector hurt by a warning that Chinese demand for iron ore may be slowing, analysts said.
London's FTSE 100 benchmark index of leading shares slid 1.06 percent to 5,897.96 points in midday trade, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 shed 1.29 percent to 7,061.22 points and in Paris the CAC 40 dipped 1.22 percent to 3,534.19.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro retreated to $1.3198 from $1.3237 late in New York on Monday.
"Comments from BHP Billiton that demand for iron ore is dwindling have caused the mining sector to retreat with Fresnillo, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto among the worst casualties, all trailing near the bottom of the UK index."
Global mining giant BHP Billiton on Tuesday said that China's iron ore demand appeared to be flattening as the world's second-largest economy slows, but added that prices were expected to hold up.
BHP iron ore president Ian Ashby said he was confident that China would meet its five-year economic growth targets but iron ore demand would soon hit "single digits if it's not already there."
China, the world's largest consumer of raw materials, recently forecast that its economy would grow by 7.5 percent this year, a marked slowdown compared with last year's 9.2 percent growth and expansion of 10.4 percent in 2010.
Meanwhile in London trading on Tuesday, the mining sector was a sea of red with BHP Billiton's share price sinking 3.08 percent to 1,985 pence and Fresnillo diving 4.07 percent to 1,703.7 pence.
Antofagasta lost 3.45 percent to 1,203 pence and Rio Tinto dived 3.46 percent to 3,489.2 pence.
"Sentiment (has) been nervous ... after BHP Billiton warned that iron ore demand from China would slow in the coming months, prompting a general sell-off among the miners and in the commodities sector," added IG Index sales trader Ben Critchley.
Asian markets also beat a hasty retreat on Tuesday as dealers shrugged off a positive lead from Wall Street.
Investors were meanwhile taking a breather after a strong rally for international stock markets since the start of the year thanks to upbeat data from the United States and easing fears over Europe's debt crisis.
Wall Street however rose overnight after Apple said it would use some of its $98 billion cash stockpile to pay its first quarterly dividend since 1995 and repurchase $10 billion of shares.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.75 percent, the Dow added 0.05 percent and the broad S&P 500 gained 0.40 percent.
Apple also announced on Monday that it had sold three million new iPads since the launch of the product last Friday.
Source: AFP Global Edition