European markets opened lower on 19 November, and traded to the downside thereafter, as caution prevailed ahead of outgoing US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke's speech.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index opened 0.3% lower to 323.89.

Britain's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 opened 0.5% lower.

Germany's DAX 30 opened 0.3% lower.

Spain's IBEX 35 was trading 0.70% lower after opening lower.

Italy's FTSE MIB was trading 0.58% lower after opening lower.

Market participants will be following Fed chief Bernanke's speech on 19 November for clues as to the future pace of the central bank's $85bn-a-month bond buying stimulus.

They also await the release of the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) October meeting, due out on 20 October.

Together, they could help investors determine whether Fed policymakers would push for a reduction in the central bank's asset buys December onwards.

In addition, market players will also be tracking US labour market data due out on 21 October as it could impact the Fed's monetary policy decision due out on 18 December.

The Fed has always maintained that it could trim its bond buys when the US economy improves, as officials expect it to.

Earlier, William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve and an ardent supporter of easy-money policies said that he was "getting more hopeful" about the prospect of a stronger US economic recovery.

"Not only do we have some better data in hand, but also the fiscal drag, which has been holding the economy back, is likely to abate considerably over the next few years at the same time that the fundamental underpinnings of the economy are improving," Dudley told a gathering at City University New York on 18 November.

In Europe, Germany will release the results of its latest ZEW survey at 10:00 hrs GMT on 19 November.

Italy will put out industrial orders and sales data for the month of September while the Eurozone's statistics office will release construction output data for the month of September

In company news, Britain's ITV revealed that advertising revenues are expected to rise 2% on average for 2013, following a strong programme schedule in the final quarter.

Meanwhile, the Co-op said it has initiated a "root and branch" investigation into how the embattled lender is run after a video emerged of its former chairman Paul Flowers handing over money to buy hard drugs.

Low-cost carrier easyJet said it proposes to give back £175m to its shareholders after annual profits rose 51% to £478m.

In Asia and the US

The Shanghai Composite finished 0.19% lower on 19 November. The Japanese Nikkei finished 0.25% lower and Australia's S&P/ASX finished 0.59% lower.

However, South Korea's Kospi finished 1.04% higher.

Asian markets witnessed mixed trade, after a downbeat handover from Wall Street, as investors exercised caution amid US stimulus taper concerns.

On Wall Street, most indices ended lower on 18 November after activist investor Carl Icahn said he is "very cautious" on the stock market.

Speaking at a Reuters investment conclave, Icahn said he anticipated a bid drop in the markets because corporate earnings were being boosted by low borrowing costs rather than the strength of the management.

The Dow finished 14.32 points higher or 0.1% at 15,976.02, its fourth straight closing high.

The S&P 500 closed 6.65 points lower or 0.4% at 1,791.53.

The Nasdaq ended 36.9 points lower or 0.9% at 3,949.07.