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European Stocks Ease On Mixed Earnings

European stocks lost ground on Thursday following two sessions of strong gains, as traders reacted to mixed earnings. Also, Italian and Spanish bond yields rose and data showed eurozone economic confidence declined more than expected in March, prompting investors to avoid trading bets ahead of data due on U.S. initial jobless claims and pending home sales.

German lender Deutsche Bank reported disappointing results, while U.K. Bank Barclays beat forecasts with a 22 percent rise in first-quarter profit.

Anglo-Dutch consumer products maker Unilever reported that its first-quarter turnover increased 11.9 percent from last year with growth in all categories and regions, despite sluggish economies, weak consumer confidence in many markets and sustained levels of competitive intensity.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is moving down 0.83 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is down 0.3 percent.

Around Europe, the German DAX, France's CAC 40 and Switzerland's SMI are down between 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 is posting a modest 0.1 percent gain.

Deutsche Bank is plunging 5.3 percent after the financial services giant reported a sharp decline in profit for the first quarter amid lower revenues and a charge related to the sale of Actavis Group to Watson Pharmaceuticals.

Barclays is moving down 0.7 percent despite posting forecast-bearing first-quarter earnings. Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell is climbing 3.1 percent after the energy giant reported a better-than-expected 15.9 percent rise in its first-quarter adjusted profit.

German automaker Volkswagen AG is climbing 6.4 percent after the company reported a surge in its first-quarter profit after tax to 3.19 billion euros from last year's 1.71 billion euros, with pre-tax profit jumping 93.4 percent to 4.30 billion euros from 2.22 billion euros a year ago.

Shares of AstraZeneca Plc are tumbling 5.6 percent as David Brennan, its chief executive officer and a board member, announced his decision to retire at the end of May. The announcement came moments after the British pharma giant reported weak first-quarter results and lowered its full-year guidance amid challenging market conditions and loss of exclusivity of several brands.

Renault is tumbling 3 percent in Paris after the French automaker said that its first quarter revenue fell 8.6 percent to 9.54 billion euros from 10.43 billion euros in the same quarter last year because of a very unfavorable European market.

In economic news, the intensification of the euro area debt crisis hampered financial integration in the region last year and thereby significantly affected the transmission of the monetary policy, the European Central Bank said in a report published today. "The intensification of the sovereign bond crisis strongly affected the euro area financial system. As a result, the integration of markets has deteriorated further," the bank said in its annual report on financial integration in Europe.

Elsewhere, Asian stock markets ended mostly higher, as a rally on Wall Street overnight on relief over the Fed's assessment of the U.S. economy and strong corporate earnings boosted investor sentiment. Trading in the Dow futures point to a soft opening as investors await more earnings reports for direction.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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