European stock markets were mixed Wednesday, with London higher and continental Europe lower, after earnings and litigation news drove a divergence between the region's benchmarks.

Key themes throughout the session were corporate earnings, M&A and litigation, with the latest emissions lawsuit in the U.S. pushing automakers lower across the board, while earnings and deal news helped to keep other sectors out of the red.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.40% higher in London, at 7,514, while the DAX index slid 0.13% to close at 12,642 in Frankfurt. The CAC 40 also slipped in Paris, down 0.13% and coming to rest at 5,341 at the close.

Benchmarks were both lower for the session over in southern Europe, with the FTSE MIB in Milan and the IBEX in Madrid posting losses of around 0.25% each.

In individual stocks, automakers were a big weight on continental benchmarks, in the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice's decision to file a civil complaint against Italian American automaker Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) - Get Report, alleging emissions rigging.

The DOJ said that Fiat failed to disclose engine management software found in its vehicles, at the certification stage, and that the engine feature in question does constitute a so-called defeat device.

Defeat devices are designed to mislead regulators over the true emissions output of an engine when vehicles are tested in lab conditions.

Volkswagen (VLKAY) was found to be guilty of having installed such software in its vehicles, back in 2016, prompting the German automaker to agree a near $20 billion settlement with U.S. justice officials.

Accordingly, Fiat Chrysler stock fell as much 3% in early trading, before paring losses. Tellingly, Volkswagen was the only automaker to eke out a gain during the Wednesday session. 

French carmakers Renault (RNSDF) and Peugeot (PEUGF) were both big fallers in Paris, weighing on the index there, although Daimler (DDAIF) was the sector's biggest loser after posting a loss of more than 2% at the close. 

The Stuttgart prosecutors office said earlier in the day that it is in contact with U.S. authorities in relation to an emissions prob in Germany. 

In other news, UBS UBS stock slipped during early trading Wednesday after saying that it has agreed to buy a majority slice of a Brazilian family office, bulking up its Latin American footprint.

Shares of European staffing agencies Adecco (AHEXY) and Ranstad (RANJY) fell Wednesday after being downgraded by analysts at Credit Suisse, who warned of the threat posed by automation to both sets of bottom lines.