- Syria turmoil continues to rise
- Carney delivers first speech as BoE Governor
- US pending home sales drop unexpectedly
- German consumer confidence eases
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European stocks were mixed as the tensions in Syria grew and as the Bank of England's (BoE) new Governor said the central bank could add more stimulus.
Concerns over Syria mounted on Wednesday after the US said it was ready to launch military action in the troubled Middle Eastern country.
US leaders have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against civilians last week in an attack that left about 300 dead.
US Vice-President Joe Biden said there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.
However, the Syrian government has firmly denied the claims and said it would defend itself against any military action from Western countries.
The US said it will release its own intelligence report into the incident at Ghouta, a suburb of the capital.
Obama is believed to have made at least 88 calls to foreign leaders to rally up support.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron held talks on the situation at Downing Street after insisting that he West must not "stand idly by".
The UK was due to put a resolution to the United Nations Security Council "authorising necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria.
While the UK, the US and France are behind military action, Russia and China is expected to block the efforts as the nations have previously vetoed resolutions critical of Syria.
The reports pushed the price of Brent crude up by $1.329 to $115.90 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate futures up by $1.286 to $110.430 per barrel.
"Once filtered through to the real global economy, the increase in oil prices
will put a halt to the current pace of economic momentum we are currently experiencing in major parts of the world," said Ishaq Siddiqi, Market Strategist at ETX Capital.
"It's plausible that Brent oil prices could be over $120 per barrel in the coming days - and, if oil prices spike even higher [above $130 per barrel], it wouldn't be out of the question for the Federal Reserve to hold off on tapering stimulus measures this year."
BoE's Carney does not rule out QE
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney on Wednesday said the policymakers would add stimulus if investor expectations for higher interest rates rose too far and trampled recovery.
In his first speech since taking over from Mervyn King, Carney reiterated his plan to keep interest rates at record lows until a 7% unemployment rate is achieved.
He was optimistic about the UK's recovery but explained that the option of further stimulus remained part of the "forward guidance" announced earlier this month.
Carney focused his remarks on unemployment, alluding to inflation concerns.
"This announcement highlights the BoE's proclivity to explore methods of stimulus other than QE [quantitative easing]," Barclays said. "Although QE is still part of the BoE's toolkit, it can no longer be presumed to be the policy of first resort, and instead forms just one component of a 'mixed strategy' for securing the economic recovery."
The Governor also announced that rules on banks would be relaxed if they meet new capital requirements. Major UK lenders will be able to reduce their required liquid asset holdings by £90bn if the minimum 7% capital requirement is met. His remarks pushed banking stocks higher.
US pending home sales, German confidence
US pending home sales declined 1.3% in July, compared to a 0.4% fall in June, a report from the National Association of Realtors revealed.
Economists had predicted no change in the data which signalled a slowing momentum in the housing market amid rising mortgage rates.
Separately, German consumer confidence eased slightly from a six year high heading into September, according GfK figures.
The GfK Consumer Confidence Survey's forward-looking sentiment indicator fell to 6.9 going into September from 7 in the previous month. It was the highest level since before the global financial crisis and undercut forecasts for the reading to hold steady.
Accor declined after reporting first-half profit that fell short of analysts' expectations.
Ryanair Holdings slumped after UK regulators ordered the budget carrier to cut its stake in Aer Lingus Group to 5% from 30% due to concerns over hurting competition in Ireland.
Polymetal International tumbled as the gold and silver miner posted a first-half net loss of $255m, compared with a $157m profit a year earlier.
Bouygues advanced as the French contractor reported a 10% increase in second-quarter profit which exceeded forecasts.
Meggitt retreated as the British aerospace and defence manufacturer agreed to pay $25m to resolve hundreds of possible export control violations the company uncovered in a review of operations dating back to the mid-1990s.
Vestas Wind Systems rallied as Stoxx Ltd. said the company is among the 12 stocks that will be added to the Stoxx 600 as of September 23rd.
Statoil gained after the Norweigan energy company made its third oil discovery off the coast of Canada in the Flemish Pass basin and Bank of America raised the stock to 'buy' from 'neutral'.