Europe Markets

Europe closes mixed; Stoxx 600 reaches yearly highs amid geopolitical concerns


European markets closed mixed Wednesday due to investor concerns over a drumbeat of geopolitical news which has fueled the buying of safe-haven assets such as gold.

The FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.22 percent at 7,365; the French CAC 40 was flat at 5,101 and the German DAX closed up 0.13 percent at 12,139.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 closed up 0.19 percent, with most sectors in positive territory and major bourses mixed. It had hit fresh highs not seen since 2015 earlier in the session though pared gains slightly in afternoon trade.

Autos were one the best performing sectors on Wednesday on strong earnings data. Daimler pre-released better-than-expected first-quarter profits which showed earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) soared 87 percent when compared to the same period last year. The German automaker's shares jumped over 0.7 percent on the news and closed the day up 0.18 percent.

Norwegian chemical company Yara International was seen at the top of the European benchmark by close of play after Goldman Sachs raised its stock recommendation from "neutral" to "buy" on Wednesday. It closed up 3.65 percent higher.

Basic resources were the worst performers Wednesday, closing down 2.58 percent. This was led by falls for Rio Tinto, which was down 3.9 percent following criticism over a lack of boardroom diversity. BHP Billiton was also down 3.5 percent after dismissing proposals from shareholder Elliott to overhaul its corporate strategy.

Dialog Semiconductor also extended heavy losses from the previous session on Wednesday. Analysts at German private bank Bankhaus Lampe had warned Apple could move business away from the firm. Its shares closed down 1.63 percent.

Britain's biggest retailer, Tesco, beat forecasts for full-year profits as its recovery appeared to gather momentum. However, shares slipped to the bottom of the benchmark, down 5.7 percent, with details of a regulatory fine which dented profits at the U.K. grocer.

Meanwhile, U.S. stocks were seen lower in anticipation of earnings season.

Tillerson meets Russian counterpart

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is poised to convene a meeting of her Cabinet on Wednesday in order to discuss Brexit, as well as the negotiating guidelines of the EU before a special summit on April 29.

In France, centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron will hold a meeting in the southwestern city of Pau with less than two weeks to go until the first round of the two-stage election process. Macron will attend alongside three-time presidential candidate Francois Bayrou, a key supporter of the former economy minister.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Moscow on Wednesday where he will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss Ukraine, counterterrorism, bilateral relations and other issues, including the Korean Peninsula and Syria.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council will host a meeting regarding the ongoing Syrian conflict.

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