VIENNA (Alliance News) - European stocks fell broadly on Wednesday as investors digested a slew of earnings reports and the US joined EU in a coordinated effort to increase pressure on Moscow for its role in supporting separatists in Ukraine.
Losses remain modest after survey data from the European Commission showed Eurozone economic confidence rose unexpectedly in July, driven by an improvement in industrial sentiment. The economic confidence index rose to 102.2 from revised 102.1 in June. Economists had forecast the score to fall to 101.9 from June's originally estimated value of 102.
Separately, figures from the statistical office Insee showed that French consumer confidence remained unchanged in July, after improving slightly in the previous month. The consumer sentiment index showed a reading of 86, same as in the previous month and in coming in line with economists' expectations.
All eyes are now on the Federal Reserve's policy announcement due out later in the day, with many expecting another USD10 billion reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Traders will be focused on the language in the Fed's statement to determine when it will raise short-term interest rates. US reports on private sector employment and second-quarter GDP due tonight will also shed further light on the health of the world's largest economy.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major UK companies, are currently down about 0.1% each. Around Europe, the benchmark indexes in Germany, France and the UK are down between 0.1% and 0.3%.
Cement maker HeidelbergCement is losing 2.2% in Frankfurt after its second-quarter operating profit missed estimates.
Osram Licht is tumbling 6.3%. The lighting maker unveiled plans to shut factories further abroad as part of its new savings program announced today.
Infineon Technologies is plunging 5.1% despite the chipmaker reporting a surge in third-quarter earnings.
Bayer shares are up nearly 2%. The drug maker reported second-quarter net income of 953 million euros, up 13.3% from 841 million euros last year.
Schneider Electric shares are down 3.7% in Paris. The French energy management firm reported lower profit in its first half, hurt by foreign exchange losses and integration costs on recently acquired Invensys.
Airbus Group is climbing 4.2% after reporting a 10% increase in its first-half underlying profit.
Barclays PLC shares are rallying 4.1% in London. The lender swung to a profit in the second quarter, helped by lower impairments and cost cuts.
Elsewhere, the Asian markets ended mixed, with Seoul shares rallying on optimism about the domestic economy, while the markets elsewhere saw muted performance, taking cues from Wall Street where stocks fell overnight in the wake of mixed earnings and economic data.
The US index futures indicate a positive open ahead of the Fed policy decision.