European stock markets drop at open

Europe's main equity markets fell in opening deals on Wednesday, with sentiment hurt by news that France sank into recession in the first quarter of 2013, dealers said.

In Paris the CAC 40 index of top shares dipped 0.18 percent to 3,959.02 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.07 percent to 8,333.61 points, and London's FTSE 100 shed 0.19 percent to 6,673.40 points.

France entered a recession in the first quarter this year with gross domestic product contracting 0.2 percent, after shrinking the same amount in the last quarter of 2012, official data showed.

A recession corresponds to a drop in growth over two quarters.

In more gloomy official data, the German economy clocked up anaemic growth at the start of 2013 as the freezing winter weather put the brakes on activity.

German gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by just 0.1 percent in the period from January to March.

"This morning's GDP data from Germany and France were weaker than expected and point to another contraction in the eurozone economy in Q1," said ABN Amro economist Nick Kounis.

Eurozone economic growth data is meanwhile scheduled for publication later this morning.