European benchmarks pared the previous session's gains Wednesday after a string of corporate earnings disappointments soured the mood among the continent's investors. 

London's FTSE 100 had fallen the hardest among major benchmarks just an hour out from the close, with a loss of 0.27%, to be quoted at 7,404.

The DAX index dropped 0.11% to 12,238 in Frankfurt while the CAC 40 shed 0.04% to 5,125 in Paris. Southern Europe's indices were also broadly lower, with both the IBEX in Madrid and the FTSE MIB in Milan showing losses of up to 0.40%.

In individual stocks the FTSE 100 was sank by a consortium of heavyweight names including emerging market bank Standard Chartered (SCBFF) , mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO) - Get Report and engineering firm Rolls-Royce (RYCEY) .

Standard Chartered fell more than 5% to the bottom of the index after it reported results for the six months ending June 30 without declaring that it would resume its dividend, as had been baked into the share price.

It also saw growth in its loan book come to a standstill in the wake of a broad rethink of the bank's risk appetite in recent years, leaving investors questioning where future revenue growth will come from in the absence contributions from other business units that it has either scaled back or exited altogether. 

Societe Generale (SCGLY) and ArcelorMittal (MT) - Get Report were the top fallers in France with losses of 3.2% and 2.2% respectively. Societe Generale beat consensus for profit before tax and delivered an in-line number for net income. However, the bank took a hit where it hurts, in the all-important TNAV metric, with tangible net asset value per share falling more than 4% for the period. 

In Frankfurt, the DAX index was sank by losses at Commerzbank (CRZBY) and medical device maker Fresenius (FMS) - Get Report , with losses ranging between 1.5% and 3.4%.

Commerzbank reported a larger than expected loss for the second quarter after restructuring charges and weak markets activity bit deeply into its bottom line. This is while Fresenius gave back Tuesday's gains, notched up in the wake of solid first-half results, amid a down market. 

Separately, but also in Frankfurt, automakers helped offset some of the pressure on the DAX with gains of more than 1% each after BMW (BMWYY) , Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Daimler (DDAIF) reached a settlement with the German government over the emissions rigging and cartel scandals that have hit the industry in recent weeks. They will fix around 5 million cars in Germany and contribute to a clean air fund in an effort to put the past behind them. 

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