European Stocks Struggle to Find Direction

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.

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