- German consumer confidence falls
- Ukraine and Russia make progress in talks
- ECB appoints advisor for ABS programme
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European stocks were little changed on Wednesday as Russia and Ukraine made headway with talks and as a report showed German consumer confidence expectations fell.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he held positive talks on Tuesday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the conflict between the two countries over the past five months which has left 2,000 people dead.
Poroshenko on Wednesday said energy ministers from Ukraine and Russia will meet with the European Union's energy commissioner on 6 September. Ukraine could face a shortfall in natural gas this winter after Russia cut off supplies to the country over a price dispute during Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March.
Geopolitical tensions were blamed for a drop in German consumer confidence expectations for September.
GfK's forward-looking index for German sentiment dropped to 8.6 in September from a downwardly revised 8.9 a month earlier, missing forecasts for the reading to remain unchanged.
"The escalation of the situation in Iraq, Israel and Eastern Ukraine as well as the gradually accelerating spiral of sanctions in Russia have now also had a negative impact on the previously extremely optimistic economic outlook of Germans," said GfK.
"Uncertainty with regard to the continued economic developments in Germany has increased quite considerably."
Another report in Germany showed the import price index fell 1.7% in July compared to a year earlier. Analysts had predicted a 1.4% drop. The index slipped 1.2% in June.
In France, business confidence fell slightly in August below the long-term average of 100 to 96 from 97 in July.
ECB appoints BlackRock as ABS consultant
The European Central Bank (ECB) has appointed BlackRock as an advisor on developing a programme to buy asset-backed securities, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
The report comes after ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure called for a stronger backing of the ABS market by European governments.
ECB President Mario Draghi said in June that the central bank is accelerating preparations to purchase ABS as in an effort to boost the stagnant euro-rea recovery.
Meanwhile, Germany's finance minster Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Passauer Neue Presse that Draghi had been "overinterpreted" after the ECB President said that the Governing Council will use "all the available instruments" to address price instability.
Draghi was seen to suggest the possibility of full-on quantitative easing but Schaeuble said: "I know Mario Draghi very well, I think he is being overinterpreted," Schaeuble told the newspaper."
Asos jumped after The Guardian reported speculation that the online fashion retailer may be a takeover target for companies such as Ebay.
Polymetal International advanced after posting first-half earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations.
Marine Harvest slumped after unexpectedly reporting a second-quarter net loss as an asset-value reduction and a €20m fine from the European Commission related to its acquisition of Morpol, hurt earnings.
Ryanair rallied after the budget airline said it will start a service for business travellers.
Telecom Italia SpA gained after Oi SA said it is reviewing options for buying a stake in Tim Participacoes SA.
United Utilities Group retreated after Bank of America Corp. and RBC Capital Markets LLC downgraded the shares.
The euro rose 0.24% to $1.3194.
Brent crude futures climbed 0.02% to $102.51 per barrel, according to the ICE.