European Stocks Fall For Fourth Day On Ukraine Woes

European stock markets staged broad-based losses on Wednesday as increasing risks of a civil war in Ukraine hit investing sentiment, and German and French industrial data missed forecasts.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.2% to 335.25, setting it on track for a fourth straight day in red.

Posting one of the biggest losses in the pan-European index, shares of CGG slid 10% after the French geoscience firm posted a decline in first-quarter revenue.

HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC) gave up 1%, after the banking major reported a fall in profit and revenue for the first quarter, as it carries on with a long-running cost-cutting plan.

Carlsberg AS slipped 0.9% after the Danish brewer cut its full-year guidance due to the political turmoil in Russia, which is its single largest market.

Société Générale SA gave up 1.5% after the French bank said its first-quarter net profit was hurt by a write-down on its Russian business.

Ukraine uncertainty

More broadly, Russia's standoff with Ukraine was weighing on the trading mood in Europe. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday urged Russia not to sabotage upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine, warning such an act could be met with further economic sanctions.

"We are not going to sit idly by while Russian elements fan the flames of instability, instead of fulfilling the commitments that we made," he said in Washington after meeting with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Also on Tuesday, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President François Hollande warned Ukraine is close to a civil war after intense fighting in the eastern part of the country earlier in the week.

Russian stocks shook off the uncertainty in Wednesday's trade, with the MICEX index rising 1.1% to 1,332.48. The blue-chip index is still down 11% year-to-date, making it one of worst performing benchmarks in Europe. The ruble (USDRUB) fell against the dollar, with the greenback buying 35.5130 rubles, up 0.2% from Tuesday according to FactSet. Read: Jim O'Neill: short the euro, watch Apple, sell in May

Elsewhere, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index fell 0.4% to 6,774.21, while France's CAC 40 index was slightly lower at 4,426.62. Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.1% to 9,459.00.

Miners added pressure in London after Chinese services data pointed to slower growth in the country. Shares of BHP Billiton PLC (BHP) dropped 0.8%, and Glencore Xstrata PLC (GLCNF) lost 0.6%.

The French and German benchmarks were also weighed by disappointing industrial numbers for March. German factory orders slid 2.8% month-on-month, missing forecasts of a small advance. Meanwhile, French industrial production dropped 0.7%, also below expectations.


Among notable movers, shares of Siemens AG (SI) gained 1.7% after the German industrial conglomerate reported a 11% rise in second-quarter profit and announced a round of deal news. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Siemens said they have agreed to combine their metals businesses.

Also in Frankfurt, shares of Commerzbank AG gave up 3.2% after the German lender reported first-quarter profit below analyst expectations.

Credit Agricole SA jumped 3.7% in Paris after the bank said first-quarter profit nearly doubled, boosted by a slowdown in provision for bad loans as Europe's economy slowly recovers.

Shares of Experian PLC slid 6% in London after the company, which helps individuals to check their credit rating, said it faces a number of one-off headwinds, including subdued trading in Brazil related to the World Cup. The challenges will constrain growth in the first half of the fiscal year, Chief Executive Don Robert said.

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