- European stocks were lower on Tuesday, as investors remained cautious ahead of a highly anticipated speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as German economic sentiment data due later in the day.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 slid 0.60%, France’s CAC 40 shed 0.38%, while Germany’s DAX 30 retreated 0.70%.

Vladimir Putin was set to address Russia''s parliament later on Tuesday on making Crimea part of the Russian Federation, one day after signing a decree recognizing the region as a sovereign state.

Worries over the Ukraine crisis seemed to subside however, as sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and the European Union were seen as mild.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale fell 0.09% and 0.42%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank retreated 0.78%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo shed 0.35% and 0.78 respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander and BBVA lost 0.35% and 0.61% respectively.

Elswehere, Bloomberg reported that European car sales rose 7.6% in February, posting the sixth consecutive monthly gain. French carmaker Renault SA saw shares jump 1.73% following the news, while German rival Volkswagen AG slipped 0.20%.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 declined 0.37%, weighed by sharp losses in the mining sector.

Shares in Rio Tinto dropped 0.72% and BHP Billiton declined 0.76%, while rivals Randgold Resources and Fresnillo plummeted 1.59% and 4.62% respectively.

Meanwhile, U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts lower as Barclays dipped 0.01% and HSBC Holdings edged down 0.07%, while Lloyds Banking slid 0.30% and the Royal Bank of Scotland retreated 0.66%.

Vodafone was also on the downside, tumbling 1.03%, one day after the wireless carrier agreed to buy Spanish cable operator Grupo Corporativo Ono SA for €7.2 billion, including debt, to boost TV and broadband offerings.

Elsewhere, Sainsbury dropped 0.93% after the U.K. grocer reported the first drop in same-store sales in more than nine years.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.12% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.15% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.20% decline.

Later in the day, the ZEW Institute is to release its closely watched report on German economic sentiment. The U.S. was to produce data on consumer inflation, in addition to reports on building permits and housing starts.

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