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European Stocks Struggle to Find Direction

Stocks in this article: BCS AZN PFE UBS CS GE

LONDON ( The Deal) --  European stock indices struggled to find a clear direction on Tuesday after a mixed day of trading in Asia amid escalating tensions in Ukraine.

With fatalities in Ukraine mounting among both pro-Russian separatists and forces of the pro-Western government, and each side accusing the other of atrocities, heavier sanctions look likely against Russia, which western powers accuse of fomenting unrest in the east of the country.

In Brussels, the European Commission's statistics arms reported a 0.3% rise in month-on-month retail sales in the eurozone, defying predictions for a monthly decline. Elsewhere, Markit Economics' Business Activity Index for the U.K. rose sharply in April from March and represented the sharpest increase so far this year.

In London, the FTSE 100 fell 0.19% to 6,809.21 as markets reopened after Monday's public holiday. In Frankfurt, the DAX was up 0.02% at 9,531.67 and in Paris, the CAC 40 was also little changed, up 0.01% at 4,463.30.

In London, infrastructure services provider Balfour Beatty plummeted close to 18% after warning that full-year profit will be "significantly below" forecasts because of a shortfall at its U.K. construction unit. It also said it may sell its Parsons Brinckerhoff division.

Barclays (BCS) fell more than 4% after announcing a 5% decline in first-quarter profit to 1.69 billion pounds, led by a worse-than-expected performance at its investment banking unit. CEO Antony Jenkins will announce his strategy for the lender on Thursday and his restructuring measures are widely expected to include the creation of an internal "bad bank," as well as selloffs of operations on mainland Europe.

Aberdeen Asset Management plunged more than 5% after reporting falling first-half profit and net new business after discounting the assets under management it acquired with the March purchase of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.

AstraZeneca (AZN) fell further below the value of an unsolicited 5,000 pence offer from Pfizer (PFE) as the political firestorm around the 63.1 billion pounds bid increased and the London drugs maker prepared to outline its defense strategy.

UBS (UBS) edged higher after announcing plans for a new legal structure that it said should mean increased dividends for shareholders. Swiss peer Credit Suisse (CS) was down slightly on reports that it is close to settling charges with U.S. prosecutors that it helped Americans evade taxes. Bloomberg reported that the deal could entail a $1 billion fine.

In Milan, carmaker Fiat rose as the Turin company prepares to announce a new strategy, including, reportedly, a separation of its Alfa Romeo unit at investor presentations in Auburn Hills, Mich., starting later Tuesday.

In Paris, Alstom fell 1.2% after the French government said it opposed General Electric's  (GE) bid for the group's energy equipment unit. GE said late Monday that will hold new talks with the government, which has no stake in Alstom,.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei dropped 0.19% to close at 14,457.51. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 1.28% at 21,976.33

Trading in Shenzhen-listed digital mapping provider NavInfo  was suspended as Asia's largest Internet company, Tencent Holdings, announced it would pay 1.17 renminbi ($188 million) for an 11.3% stake. The seller is NavInfo parent China Siwei Surveying & Mapping Technology Corp.

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