- Israeli forces admit to missile test launch in Mediterranean
- US manufacturing and construction expands
- UK construction activity rises sharply
- UK retail sales values jump
- Spanish lender sought by consortium
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European equities were mixed as concerns over Syria were renewed following a missile launch in the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and as US manufacturing expanded.
Israeli forces training with the US Navy in the Mediterranean on Tuesday launched two ballistic objects that set off an alert from the Syrian government's ally Russia.
President Barack Obama has asked lawmakers to back military action to chastise Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against civilians which killed hundreds last month.
Assad reiterated his denial of the claims on Monday, warning the US and its French allies of retribution.
Congress is reportedly split on whether to intervene in Syria and Obama has so far had little success of convincing lawmakers ahead of votes next week.
Should lawmakers deny Obama's request for force in Syria it would be the first time Congress had rejected a president's appeal for military action.
Meanwhile, a United Nations agency said the number of Syrian refugees has passed the two million mark and warned that the world faces its greatest threat to peace since the Vietnam war.
US manufacturing expands in August
US manufacturing grew more than expected in August to the fastest rate since June 2011, data showed Tuesday.
The Institute for Supply Management's factory index rose to 55.7 from the prior month's 55.4, above the 50 level that signals expansion and beating forecasts for a 54 reading.
A separate report from the Commerce Department revealed US construction spending climbed 0.6% in July to an annual rate of $901bn, compared to a fall of 0.6% in June and economists' expectations for a 0.3% jump.
In the UK, construction activity rose sharply in August, boosted by residential building. The Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) jumped to 59.1 last month compared to 57 in July, the fastest pace since September 2007.
The British Retail Consortium, meanwhile, said the total value of retail sales was up 3.6% year-on-year in August after a 3.9% increase in July.
Private equity groups to buy Spanish bank
A consortium of private equity groups are set to buy an arm of Nova Galicia, one of Spain's nationalised lenders, in what would mark the first significant foreign investment in the country's banking system since the start of the financial crisis.
The consortium, which includes US buyout firm Centerbridge and London-based Anacap, are in late stage talks to acquire Nova Galicia's subsidiary Evo Banco. The deal is expected to close in the next two weeks, people familiar with the situation told the Financial Times.
It would be the first time a lender owned by the Frob, Spain's state bank rescue fund, has been bought by a foreign investor since the crisis prompted the country's government to request a European bailout of its financial sector last year.
In another positive note for Spain, unemployment fell for the sixth month running in August, down 31 to 4,698,783, according to data published on Tuesday by the Ministry for Employment and Social Security.
It was the first time that unemployment has fallen during any month of August since 2000.
Nokia surges on Microsoft deal
soared after Microsoft agreed to buy its struggling mobile phone business for €5.44bn.
Vodafone declined as it forecast an adjusted operating profit of £5bn for 2014 after Verizon Communications said it would acquire the UK telecommunications company's stake in their joint venture Verizon Wireless.
Suedzucker AG fell after Exane BNP Paribas SA reduced its rating of the maker of sugar, starch and bakery additives to 'underperform' from 'neutral', saying the company will require significant restructuring to prosper amid tough competition.
Dufry advanced as the operator of duty-free stores said it signed long-term contracts with airports in Brazil and is investing $250m to $275m in its projects in the country.
Crude futures rise on Syria woes
Brent crude futures jumped $0.513 to 114.920 per barrel on the ICE as fears of a military strike resurfaced.
The euro fell 0.31% against the 1.3151 US dollar.