European Stock Indices Edge Lower as Ukrainian Crisis Heightens

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stock indices edged lower on Monday as the Ukraine crisis escalated and investors braced for new European Union sanctions against Russia for its perceived support of separatists.

Reports said Ukrainian forces withdrew from Luhansk airport in eastern Ukraine following clashes with pro-Russian rebels. Meanwhile, Russia called for an immediate cease-fire, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled further sanctions, even while acknowledging they could harm the European economy.

Geopolitical worries appear to be affecting the U.K.'s strong recovery. Markit Economics said its Purchasing Managers' Index in the U.K. fell to the lowest in more than a year in August. The gauge unexpectedly dropped to 52.5, the lowest since June 2013, from 54.8 the previous month. In the eurozone Markit's PMI fell more than expected to 50.7 from 51.8.

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In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.02% at 6,818.17. In Frankfurt, the DAX slipped 0.05% to 9,465.26 and in Paris the CAC 40 declined 0.25% to 4,370.24.

In London, ITV was up about 2.3% after the Sunday Telegraph said Liberty Global had been sounding out the U.K. terrestrial commercial TV broadcaster's U.S. shareholders to canvas support for a possible bid. Liberty Global spent 481 million pounds to buy a 6.4% stake in ITV from British Sky Broadcasting Group in July and said at the time it had no plans to mount a bid.

But Britain's leading food retailer, Tesco, declined further after the company gave a profit warning on Friday, and fund manager Harris Associates cut its stake and questioned Tesco's strategy. The stock was down about 1.5% by early afternoon Monday in London.

Sports media company Perform Group was up more than 26% at 257.60 pence on news that 42.5% owner Access Industries had made a buyout offer for the outstanding shares. Access, a vehicle of Len Blavatnik, has offered 260 pence per share, valuing the whole of Perform's equity at 683.5 million pounds ($799.4 million).

In Paris, wireless services provider Iliad fell 4.8% on reports it's trying to revive a bid for Deutsche Telekom's majority-owned U.S. unit T-Mobile U.S. (TMUS) in conjunction with private equity investors.

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Advertising company Havas was up more than 2% on better-than-forecast first-half figures released late Friday, which showed strong growth in Europe.

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