European Stocks Hit Hard By Downbeat Earnings

( - European stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as downbeat corporate earnings overshadowed encouraging news about the world's largest economy.

Data released by the Commerce Department showed U.S. GDP to have increased by a more than anticipated 4.0 percent in the second quarter following a revised 2.1 percent decrease in the first quarter. Economists had expected GDP to rise by 3.0 percent.

Traders remained concerned about geopolitical tensions, as the U.S. joined Europe in imposing new sanctions on Russia for backing separatists in Ukraine.

Later today, the Federal Reserve makes its latest policy announcement. Markets expect some clues about when the Fed may hike interest rates in light of the resurgent U.S. economy.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks fell 0.6 percent.

The German DAX slipped 0.62 percent, the CAC of France fell 1.2 percent, and the FTSE 100 eased 0.50 percent.

Cement maker HeidelbergCement lost 3 percent in Frankfurt after its second-quarter operating profit missed estimates.

Swiss rival Holcim posted lower-than-expected profit because of weak emerging market currencies. Shares fell 4.8 percent.

Osram Licht tumbled 10 percent. The lighting maker unveiled plans to shut factories further abroad as part of its new savings program announced today.

Infineon Technologies lost 4.5 percent despite the chipmaker reporting a surge in third-quarter earnings.

Bayer shares rose 1.8 percent. The drug maker reported second-quarter net income of 953 million euros, up 13.3 percent from 841 million euros last year.

Schneider Electric shares lost 4.1 percent in Paris. The French energy management firm reported lower profit in its first half, hurt by foreign exchange losses and integration costs on recently acquired Invensys.

Airbus Group rose 3 percent after reporting a 10 percent increase in its first-half underlying profit.

Barclays Plc shares are rallying 4.1 percent in London. The lender swung to a profit in the second quarter, helped by lower impairments and cost cuts.

PSA Peugeot Citroen rallied 5.8 percent after reporting its first half-yearly profit since 2011.

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