European Stocks Struggle to Push Higher

European stock markets struggled to push higher in a choppy session on Tuesday, with major banks leading markets lower, while BMW advanced after an upbeat February sales report.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.1% to 331.24, on track for a third straight day of losses.

Banks weighed on the benchmark, with shares of Barclays PLC (BCS) down 2.1% in London, Deutsche Bank AG (DB) off 0.8% in Frankfurt, and Société Générale SA 0.5% lower in Paris.

On a more upbeat note, BMW AG inched 0.6% higher after the German car maker said group sales rose 5.6% in February compared with the same month last year, marking its best-ever February sales result.

Among other notable movers on Tuesday, shares of Inchcape PLC advanced 3.7% after the car dealer said full-year sales rose 7.7% and recommended a 20% rise in final dividend.

Shares of Royal Ahold NV slipped 0.8% after the Dutch food retailer said it has agreed to buy Austrian Spar AG's supermarket business in the Czech Republic for 5.25 billion Czech koruna ($270 million).

More broadly, the European Union's banking-union project was in focus as the economics and finance ministers from the member states met for the ECOFIN meeting to discuss the details of the banking-failure framework, the so-called Single Resolution Mechanism. The implementation process and funding for struggling banks remain the sticking point, but Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after a meeting with the group of euro-zone finance ministers on Monday that they had made "very good progress" on getting closer to an agreement.

On the data front, numbers from Germany showed imports outpaced exports at the start of the year. Imports rose 4.1% in January, while exports rose 2.2%.

In the U.K., industrial production rose 0.1% in January month-on-month, slightly below analyst expectations and lower than the December improvement.

Germany's DAX 30 index was slightly higher at 9,267.98, while the U.K.'s dropped 0.3% to 6,668.08. France's CAC 40 index dropped 0.3% to 4,357.27.