The Deal: European Stocks Fall Following Obama's Strong Words Over Russia

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks fell on Thursday, following U.S. stocks lower, and Asian indices were mixed as investors worried that a speech Wednesday by President Obama could presage growth-damaging action to tackle the crisis in Ukraine.

Obama, following a U.S./EU summit, urged European leaders to get tough with Russia, which has taken over the former Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea after the region held a unilateral referendum.

In the U.K., data showed February retail sales rose 3.7% year on year, well above the 2.5% increase economists had predicted, pushing the pound higher. Fourth-quarter GDP news from the U.S., along with jobless claims and home sales data, should shape afternoon trading. 

In London the FTSE 100 gave up 0.47% to 6,574.28. In Frankfurt the DAX drifted down 0.11% to 9,438.54 and in Paris the CAC 40 edged down 0.13% to 4,379.60.

In London, engineering and support services company Babcock International Group pwas down more than 4% after it said it would pay 1.63 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) for the Avincis helicopter rescue business of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Investindustrial. It will fund 1.1 billion pounds of the price with a rights issue priced at 790 pence, a 42% discount to Wednesday's closing price.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)fell after its RBS Citizens Financial Group unit was one of several American and foreign-owned U.S. lenders to fail annual Federal Reserve stress tests. The development will make it harder for the Edinburgh institution to either hold a second-half IPO for the business, as planned, or to sell it, which CEO Ross McEwan has previously said he would consider.

In Stockholm, clothing retailer H & M Hennes & Mauritz was down more than 4% after disappointing first-quarter profit figures.

In Hong Kong, the "Candy Crush" effect rubbed off on Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings, which closed down 5.9% amid investor concern that valuations for Internet and e-commerce companies are getting too heady.

Citic Pacific closed up almost 13% as trading resumed following Wednesday's announcement that it will subsume the assets of state-backed parent compay Citic Ltd., the operating entity of its parent company. Citic Ltd. is China's largest multi-industry conglomerate.

In Tokyo, Yahoo Japan said late afternoon that it had agreed to acquire wireless services carrier eAccess from its own 43% owner, SoftBank, for about 324 billion yen ($3.2 billion).

Yahoo Japan closed down 3.7%. SoftBank, which wants to buy T-Mobile US and combine it with its majority owned Sprint, closed down 1.9%.

The Hang Seng closed down 0.24% at 21,834.45.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 1.01% to 14,622.89.

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