European Markets Fall on Lower German Sentiment

European stock markets stayed lower midmorning on Tuesday after the German ZEW index slid more than expected, with the sentiment indicator hit by ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index gave up 0.1% to 325.63, partly erasing a 1.1% rally from Monday, which marked the biggest advance in almost two weeks.

The pan-European benchmark was weighed by a 0.9% loss for Vodafone Group PLC (VOD), falling after Fitch Ratings placed the telecoms firm on rating watch negative after the deal to buy Spanish cable operator Ono SA. Fitch said it will likely downgrade Vodafone by one notch if it acquires Ono without taking other measures to reduce debt.

Shares of Scania AB fell 4.3% after an independent committee formed to assess Volkswagen AG's bid for the Swedish truck maker recommended that Scania shareholders reject the offer. Volkswagen shares fell 1.2%.

Resolution Ltd. slumped 5.6% after the insurance firm swung to profit but said founders Clive Cowdery and John Tiner will step down. The founders steered the company through a restructuring phase that is now complete.

More broadly, the markets looked to fresh macroeconomic data on the euro zone. Eurostat said the currency union had a surplus in their trade of goods with the rest of the world in January, an indication that the region's economic recovery continued at the start of the year.

Investors also digested the March ZEW survey that measures German investor confidence. The indicator of economic sentiment slid 9.1 points to 46.6, missing analyst expectations of 52 and marking a third straight month on the decline. ZEW President Clemens Fuest said the "Crimea crisis is weighing on experts' economic expectations for Germany," but stressed that the economic upswing is not at risk.

The unrest in Ukraine stayed in the spotlight on Tuesday. U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Russia to begin talks with Ukraine to resolve the issue over the Crimea region and said "continuing to ignore those calls will bring serious consequences for Russia." The EU and the U.S. on Monday imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian and Crimean officials linked to the unrest in the region.

Russia's MICEX Index rose 0.5% to 1,292.71.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany's DAX 30 index dropped 0.4% to 9,147.21, while France's CAC 40 index inched 0.1% higher to 4,275.86. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 0.1% to 6,564.32.