The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally slipped 0.1 percent by the close, off its session lows. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.39 percent, while France's CAC 40 dipped 0.36 percent and Germany's DAX dropped 0.47 percent. Peripheral markets closed in different directions.
Sectors closed mostly lower. Among them, media was one of the worst-performing industries, slipping 0.6 percent — dragged down by Informa and Pearson. Shares of Pearson sank 4.65 percent after the publisher reported a 2 percent fall in revenue in the first nine months of its fiscal year.
Telecoms sank 0.8 percent as a sector, with most stocks closing in the red. Technology meantime finished on a positive note, boosted by ASML, which rose 5 percent, after reporting better-than-expected results.
U.K. fashion house Burberry sat at the bottom of the STOXX 600 at the end of trade, tumbling 9.3 percent, after reporting lower sales in its third quarter.
News that Interserve is being monitored by the U.K. government on concerns over its financial health weighed on
the construction sector, following the collapse of Carillion. Interserve ended in the red, but off its highs.
At the top of Europe's benchmark, Rolls Royce popped 5.4 percent after the manufacturer announced that it would evaluate the strategic options of its commercial marine businesses, a division that has suffered due to weak demand in the offshore oil and gas markets.
Europe's top performer was Steinhoff, which rose 16.13 percent by the close, having posted sharp gains at the end of the session.
In other news, Swiss food group Nestle announced Tuesday that it had agreed to sell its U.S. business to Ferrero for $2.8 billion.
On the data front, consumer inflation in the euro zone slowed down in December to 1.4 percent year-on-year from 1.5 percent in the previous month.
Meanwhile, Jens Weidmann, the German representative to the European Central Bank said in an interview published Wednesday that it would be "appropriate" to stop bond purchases, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
Looking overseas, Asian markets closed lower after Wall Street reversed from record highs on Tuesday. The Dow hit the 26,000 benchmark briefly in its previous session, however, it also recorded its biggest one-day reversal in nearly a year, on government shutdown concerns.
Congress needs to pass a spending bill by the end of Friday to avoid a government shutdown.