LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock indices were little changed on Wednesday as a new round of U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia over its suspected military backing of separatists in Ukraine coincided with a slew of corporate earnings from some of Europe's biggest companies.
The measures agreed and announced yesterday will block Russian state-owned banks' access to European capital markets and include embargos on the supply to Russia of energy equipment and of weapons.
In London the FTSE 100 was up 0.04% at 6,810.43, having earlier dipped lower. In Frankfurt the DAX was down 0.01% to 9,652.80 and in Paris the CAC 40 was down 0.06% at 4,363.00
But while investors in Europe appeared nervous about the impact of the sanctions on corporate earnings, Russian investors welcomed the clarity after days of uncertainty. The Micex index of Russia's top 50 stocks was up 2.3% by early afternoon in Moscow. OAO Rosneft, the oil producer that has been affected by the sanctions, was among the significant risers.
Separately, European Commission figures showed eurozone economic confidence unexpectedly increased in July.
In London, Barclays (BCS) rose almost 4% after returning to profit in the second quarter. Transport operator National Express, bakeries chain Greggs and home builder Taylor Wimpey (TWODY) were among other London stocks to post significant gains on the back of earnings reports.
AstraZeneca (AZN) was up about 1% after announcing a deal to buy the rights to Almirall's respiratory pipeline for $875 million plus up to $1.2 billion in performance and milestone-related payments. The deal is part of AstraZenea's plan to reverse declining sales and earnings because of the loss of patents. It said the deal will boost core earnings per share from 2016 and be neutral in 2015.