European stock markets mixed on weak German investor data

LONDON (AFP) - European stock markets stumbled Tuesday after recording strong gains a day earlier, with sentiment hit by weak German data and uncertain developments in Ukraine.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index stood at 6,632.42 points, virtually the same level it closed at on Monday.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 fell by 1.21 per cent to 9,069.47 points meanwhile, while in Paris the CAC 40 slid 0.85 per cent to 4,162.16.

In Germany, investment sentiment fell to the lowest level for nearly two years this month owing to concern about economic fallout from the current global crises, a survey found.

The widely watched investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW economic institute fell 18.5 points to 8.6 points in August, its lowest level since December 2012, a ZEW statement said.

"The disappointing showing in some European indices today can partially be attributed to some profit taking following the strong start to the week, while the disappointing ZEW figures will also be contributing to the decline," remarked Craig Erlam market analyst at Alpari traders.

Meanwhile, a huge convoy headed towards eastern Ukraine that Russia portrayed as a humanitarian aid effort raised market tension a notch higher.

"Investors are wondering if there will be a reaction from Ukraine and from Europe," said Alexandre Baradez, an analyst at IG France.

EU countries have already slapped sanctions on Russia in response to what they see as Moscow's military support for rebels in Ukraine.

In midday New York trading, US stocks were also on a downward trend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.19 per cent to 16,538.48 points, the broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.23 per cent to 1,932.42 and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 0.38 per cent to 4,384.42.

The latest levels took a shine off a Monday's market rally, which saw Frankfurt's DAX index leap almost 2.0 per cent as investors breathed a little easier with respect to events in Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine.

Now, however, "there will be increased focus on German data following both this (ZEW) report and last month's fall on the closely watched IFO survey indicator," noted Daniel Sugarman at ETX Capital.

In foreign exchange trading, the euro fell to $1.3358 from $1.3385 late on Monday in New York.

The European single currency dropped to 79.48 pence from 79.73 pence on Monday. The pound edged higher against the dollar, to $1.6805 from $1.6787.

Ukraine's national currency, the hryvnia, hit a record low of 13.14 to the dollar as fighting in the east hammers the economy.

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold grew to $1,315.75 an ounce from $1,307.25 on Monday.

British insurer Prudential was one of the strongest risers on the London FTSE 100 index - its share price jumping 2.20 per cent to 1,368.5 pence after the company announced bumper half-year profits.

In Frankfurt, shares in Henkel, the maker of Persil detergent, took a bath, losing 5.25 per cent to 78.16 euros after the group posted disappointing second-quarter results.

Asian stock markets had closed mostly higher earlier in the day in the wake of European and US gains on Monday.