A hefty exposure to gold miners and an ongoing inflation trade helped keep U.K. stocks out of the red Tuesday, while weak banks and geopolitics saw benchmarks sink on the European continent.
As the U.S. navy group headed toward North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow for a showdown with foreign minister Sergey Lavrov over Russia's support for the Syrian government. Geopolitics remained high on the agenda during the European session and prompted a steady offer for safe havens. This helped to fuel demand for London's vast selection of gold mining stocks while the British capital also benefited from U.K. consumer price index figures that showed inflation remaining stubbornly high during March.
The day's tensions sank benchmarks over on the European continent, with French and German stocks siitting deeply in the red by the close.
The FTSE 100 closed 0.20% higher in London at 7,365, while the mid-market FTSE 250 benchmark added 0.22% before settling at 19,306.
In Frankfurt, the DAX was down by 0.50% to close at 12,139, while the CAC 40 dropped 0.11% in Paris, before coming to a standstill at 5,101.
Southern European stocks were also found swimming deeply in the red at the close, with the IBEX in Madrid down just more than 0.2% and the FTSE MIB in Italy down nearly 0.5%.
easyJet (EJTTF) and British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAGY) also saw strong gains as the airline sector rallied throughout the session in response to robust passenger numbers during March and solid improvement on capacity utilization (load factors).
In Paris, ArcelorMittal (MT - Get Report) continued its recent run of poor performance when the stock printed a loss of more than 2% at the close, while Nokia (NOK - Get Report) and Valeo (VLEEY) were also found close to the bottom of the CAC.
Although not a feature of the CAC index, KLM Air France (AFLYY) was a noteworthy riser in Paris, with gains for the session taking total returns for the last week to more than 7%.
It too was a beneficiary of a recent upturn in operating conditions for the airline industry, with March traffic growing by 4.6% and its load factor improving by 10 basis points to 85.3%.
In Frankfurt, the DAX was hit by losses at financial heavyweights Commerzbank (CRZBY) and Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report) , both of which were victims of a broad selloff in the European banking sector.
Banks were weaker as geopolitics weighed and talk of a capital increase at Spain's fifth-largest lender Banco Popular (BPESF) saw a renewed focus on bank balance sheets and nonperforming loans.
However, losses on the DAX were partially offset by strong gains at Lufthansa (DLAKY) , which led Tuesday's surge among European airline stocks after it said March passenger volumes rose by 14% year on year and its load factor improved by 80 basis points to 77.2%.