European benchmarks were mixed heading into the close on Tuesday after a flurry of corporate earnings and company announcements drove a divergent performance across markets.
The blue chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.20% during late noon trading in London while its mid-market sibling, the FTSE 250 index, had lost 0.% to 19,218.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index dropped 0.12% to 5,159 while, over in Frankfurt, the DAX index bucked the continental trend with a 0.29% gain. Stocks in Southern Europe were equally mixed with the IBEX lower in Madrid while the FTSE MIB eked out a minor gain in Milan.
Breaking with recent tradition, commodity futures prices were up broadly for the session with natural gas gaining around 2.5% and zinc, nickel and iron ore gaining more than 1% each. Crude oil futures also managed to eke out a small gain on both sides of the Atlantic after a lengthy run of losses.
In individual stocks, Pearson plc (PSO) saw its shares fall close to 5% by late noon trading in London, despite the education publisher having announced a $1 billion sale of part of its stake in the Penguin publishing brand.
The rub for investors came on a conference call hours after the announcement, with management leaving markets unenthusiastic about the company's future as well as the prospects for the dividend.
Grocery and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer Group plc (MAKSF) stock hit the deck hard Tuesday after the company said that sales of its key food items had fallen during the recent quarter, albeit at a low single digit pace. The stock was also down close to 5% during noon trading.
The European travel firm raised €244.4 million ($275.7 million) from the sale of a near 5% stake in the company, reducing its holding to zero, just three months after it began its exit with the sale of around 6 million shares.
In Paris, Sodexo Group (SDXAY) was among the biggest fallers on the CAC 40 after analysts at Credit Suisse AG cut their estimates for earnings by 7% and also shaved 5% off of their target price in response to management having slashed full-year sales guidance last week. The shares were down just more than 1% during noon trading.