European benchmarks sank heavily into the red Wednesday as investors fled from risk and rallied around safe havens in response to a return of geopolitics to the headlines, while a series of earnings reports also went down poorly during the early hours. 

Rhetoric emerging from the White House and directed at North Korea claimed much of the headline space throughout the session and was the lead instigator behind the sell off. 

The FTSE 100 was cushioned from much of the downside by a stronger dollar, given a large weighting toward dollar earners on the index, which capped losses at 0.55% for the benchmark after taking it down to 7,498 just less than an hour from the close. 

Over on continental Europe, the DAX index slid 1.13% to 12,151 in Frankfurt while the CAC 40 dropped 1.48% to 5,141 in Paris. In Southern Europe, both the FTSE MIB in Milan and the IBEX in Madrid each posted losses of just more than 1.25%.

In individual stocks, outsourced security provider G4S (GFSZF) was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, dropping more than 7%, after posting a disappointing set of second-quarter results. Organic growth slowed during the period while the pension deficit widened, both factors that analysts believe could repeat in the second half given tougher comparative numbers from the prior year. 

Bank stocks were also big fallers right the way across Europe, with Barclays plc (BCS) and Royal Bank of Scotland   (RBS) both noteworthy losers in London, although the fall was more pronounced in Europe.

Societe Generale SA (SCGLY) and Credit Agricole Group  (CRARY) were the two single biggest fallers on the CAC 40 in Paris while both Deutsche Bank AG  (DB) and Commerzbank AG   (CRZBY) claimed the same trophy in Frankfurt. All four stocks shed between 2.5% and 4% during the session. 

Also in Frankfurt, Deutsche Lufthansa AG  (DLAKY) was seen close to the bottom of the DAX, with a loss of around 1.5%, mimicking a broad based decline for European airlines. However, more noteworthy, Lufthansa had delivered yet more solid passenger numbers and another improved load factor before the opening bell. 

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