European stock markets are mixed at the start of trading as Germany's top court prepared to hand down a momentous ruling on a new crisis firewall, and as The Netherlands went to the polls.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index on Wednesday fell 0.12 per cent to 5,785.24 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 climbed 0.29 per cent to 7,331.58 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 also rose by 0.29 per cent to stand at 3,547.40.
In Germany, the Constitutional Court was to decide at 10.00am (1800 AEST) whether German President Joachim Gauck can sign into law the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
The ESM is the future firewall for eurozone government rescue funding. Its enforcement has been held up awaiting Wednesday's ruling.
The ruling comes on a day of risks for the euro, as an anti-austerity party was set to score big gains in Dutch elections and EU leaders unveil plans for the first step towards a eurozone banking union.
All eyes were also on the Federal Reserve, whose policy board was expected to embark on fresh monetary easing measures as it meets on Wednesday and Thursday to address a weak US economy and stagnant job creation.
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