GO
Loading...

Europe shares close lower; Ukraine concerns persist

European shares closed lower on Tuesday, as Ukraine worries and fears about slowing demand in China weighed on stocks, along with disappointing data from the U.S.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed lower by 1 percent at 1,306.42 points on Tuesday, having briefly turned positive after U.S. markets opened.

Read MoreTrack US markets live

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 closed unofficially down 0.7 percent, the German DAX fell 1.8 percent and Italy's FTSE MIB was lower by 2.1 percent. European stocks have been hit recently by concerns over weak corporate earnings and high valuations, encouraging some investors out of riskier assets, particularly momentum stocks.

On Wall Street, Johnson & Johnson posted first-quarter earnings of $1.54 per share, beating expectations. Shares traded 1.5 percent higher. Coca-Cola reported earnings of 44 cents per share, in line with expectations, although profit fell 8 percent. Coca-Cola stocks were higher by 3.9 percent afterwards.

Read MoreCoca-Cola profit falls 8 percent

Nonetheless, U.S. stocks erased most of their gains on Tuesday after economic reports offered a disappointing read on home builder sentiment, and as manufacturing in the New York region declined.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Tuesday reported its gauge of manufacturing fell to 1.29 in April from 5.61 in March.

"It's the weakest since November, and certainly can't be blamed on the weather," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, said via email.

A separate report had the cost-of-living in the U.S. climbing more than estimated in March, as food and rents grew more costly.

The Ukraine-Russia turmoil continued on Tuesday. Reuters cited Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, as saying an airfield in Kramatorsk had been taken back from separatists, suggesting military action by Ukraine had started.

Read MoreUkrainian airfield reclaimed from separatists: Report

Russian stocks on the MICEX index initially traded higher on Tuesday morning but quickly dropped lower to close down by 2.5 percent.

On the European data front, retail sales figures from the British Retail Consortium showed a 1.7 percent dip in March on the year before. This was below market expectations for a 1.0 percent rise.

Meanwhile, U.K. inflation fell to its lowest level in more than four years, according to the country's consumer price index. The index showed a rise of 1.6 percent on the year before, continuing a downward trend in inflation levels.

Read MoreUK inflation dips again, lowest since October 2009

In equity news, mining stocks continued to slump—despite a promising earnings update from Rio Tinto—with weaker metal prices and selling in China sending the sector lower. Shares in the U.K.'s Rio Tinto closed lower by around 3.1 percent.

U.K. retailer Debenhams reported that its first-half profit had fallen by a quarter, but shares rose 2.3 percent, with the results in line with an earlier profit warning.

Shares of Swiss firm Roche were down by roughly 0.4 percent, as first quarter sales missed expectations. The firm reported growth in sales but said the strength of the Swiss franc had weighed heavily on its figures.

Read MoreRoche looks to cancer drug to offset strong franc

Meanwhile, Nestle traded lower by 0.2 percent after reporting first-quarter sales below analysts' expectations. The food giant also said a stronger Swiss franc had taken its toll on sales.

Read MoreNestle sales miss forecasts, sees pick-up

Aker Solutions saw its shares soar 4.2 percent higher after the Norwegian oil services company announced it had won a $2.4 billion contract from Total.

Power provider Aggreko also received a boost after a first-quarter trading update revealed it was hoping to meet market expectations for the year ahead; shares closed the day higher by 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, Sodexo shares rose 3.3 percent after the catering and facilities management company received an upgrade to "buy" by Deutsche Bank.

Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld

Contact EU

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More