- Syria concerns renewed on reports of missile launch
- US manufacturing data to be released
- UK construction rises sharply in August
- UK retail sales jump
- Spanish lender to be bought by consortium
FTSE 100: -0.02%
FTSE MIB: 0.11%
IBEX 35: 0.42%
Stoxx 600: 0.18%
The European market was experiencing volatility at the midday mark as Syrian concerns resurfaced on reports two ballistic objects were fired towards the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.
Russia said the missiles fell into the sea, a source in Damascus told Russian news agency RIA.
The launch was detected at 10:16 Moscow time by a radar in the southern Russian city of Armavir, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.
Some reports suggested it was a test fire by US forces but the Pentagon, the UK and French Defense Ministries and the Israel Army told the news agency they had no information about such launches.
"News that the launch was only a test fire undid some of the intraday damage, but the move did serve to show how the market feels about the prospect of Western intervention in the region, and saw Brent cross back through the $116 mark for the first time this week," said Matt Basi at CMC Markets.
Brent crude rose $0.652 to $115.080 per barrel on the ICE at 11:45.
Russia is opposed to military intervention in Syria. A military official earlier accused the US of deploying warships in the Mediterranean close to Syria.
The West has been weighing up military action in Syria after the US accused the country's government of using chemical weapons against civilians on August 21st
US and UK economic data
Prior to news of ballistic objects fired in the Mediterranean, stocks were little changed as investors awaited the release of US data.
The ISM US Manufacturing report for August is anticipated to fall to 54 from the prior month's 55.4 when released at 10:00 New York time. A reading over 50 signals expansion.
US construction spending for July is expected to show a 0.3% rise, compared to a fall of 0.6% in June.
Policymakers have been turning to economic data to see whether the US has recovered enough for the Fed to begin scaling back its $85bn per month in bond purchases.
Economists predict the central bank will start trimming its stimulus at the highly awaited policy meeting on September 17th to 18th.
In the UK, the British Retail Consortium said the total value of retail sales rose 3.6% year-on-year in August after a 3.9% increase in July. Growth in home items, including furniture and flooring sales, were the best performers while food was the slowest category after a bumper year during the Olympics when people stocked up on celebratory fare for the event.
A separate report showed British 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. It exceeded the 50 level that signals expansion and economists' expectations for a reading of 56.9.
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.
Nokia gains 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.
The euro fell 0.08% against the 1.3181 US dollar.