European stock markets were mainly lower on Tuesday, with London hit by extremely poor economic data that risked tipping Britain back into recession, while the travel sector was in focus as heavy snowfall shut Frankfurt's airport.
London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies inched down 0.03 percent to 6,502.16 points approaching midday in the British capital.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.10 percent to 7,975.97 points and in Paris the CAC 40 was flat at 3,837.18.
"More abysmal data out of the UK this morning has once again prompted talk of a triple dip recession," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari trading group.
"Manufacturing and industrial production figures have not been a strong point for the UK for quite a while now but these have been especially poor. Both fell more than one percent compared to a month earlier, despite expectations of a small rise."
In Germany, Europe's biggest economy, Frankfurt Airport was forced to close owing to heavy snow, a spokesman said, with more than 200 flights already scrapped.
A spokesman was unable to say how long Europe's third busiest hub was expected to remain closed as much of Europe battled unseasonably cold weather.
Snow also forced Eurostar to suspend cross-Channel train services between London and Paris.
In foreign exchange trade on Tuesday, the euro slipped to $1.3014 from $1.3046 late on Monday in New York. Sterling hit a more than 2.5-year low at $1.4832 in the wake of the very weak British economic data.
Gold prices grew to $1,583.41 an ounce on the London Bullion Market from $1,579 Friday.
European equities had on Monday closed with mixed but mainly weaker results as disappointing Chinese economic data offset positive job numbers out of the United States, analysts said.
"European stock markets are again trading on the soft side... awaiting fresh catalysts to offer direction," said Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist at ETX Capital trading group.
"The Dow overnight printed fresh all-time highs but Asian markets, particularly Japan, were under pressure. This fed through into a soft European market session with traders refraining from building positions given that indices are at elevated level.
"This provides a compelling excuse to book profits but the general risk sentiment is broadly positive as (investors) remain hopeful for more clarity on Italys political drama this Friday when politicians in the country meet to discuss how to govern the country."
Italy on Tuesday borrowed 7.75 billion euros ($10 billion) in short-term debt but at a higher rate compared with a previous bond auction, after Fitch downgraded Rome's sovereign debt on Friday by one notch to "BBB+".
But over in Spain, borrowing costs eased as it sold 5.832 billion euros in short-term debt -- in a sign of further-strengthening market confidence in the crisis-hit country.
The sale offered further encouragement for the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, which last year resisted speculation that it would need a sovereign bailout to rescue its public finances.
In France, the eurozone's second-largest economy, President Francois Hollande on Tuesday said that the country's public deficit would probably amount to 3.7 percent of national output this year, publicly renouncing his government's goal of coming in below the EU limit of three percent.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Asian stock markets finished lower as profit-takers moved in to reverse earlier gains, but the dollar extended its recent upward trend against the Japanese yen.
The regional losses came despite Monday's record-high close for the Dow Jones index on Wall Street, while Shanghai suffered another steep fall after the weekend's disappointing data on the Chinese economy