RTTNews - The European markets fell for the first time in five days on Wednesday after Swiss Life, WPP and Antofagasta reported sharply lower earnings.

In economic news, the U.S. Commerce Department said in its report that new home sales surged up by 9.6% to an annual rate of 433,000 in July from the revised June rate of 395,000. With the increase, new home sales rose to their highest level since September of 2008. Economists had been expecting sales to edge up to 390,000 from the 384,000 originally reported for the previous month.

In a separate report, the U.S. Commerce Department said that new orders for durable goods jumped 4.9% in July following a revised 1.3% decrease in June. Economists had expected orders to increase by 3.2% compared to the 2.2% decrease that had been reported for the previous month.

The Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research said its business climate index rose to 90.5 in August from 87.4 in July. That is the highest reading since September last year. Economists had expected the indicator to climb to 89.

Crude for October delivery fell $0.87 to $71.18 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the time the European markets closed, after new government data showed that U.S. crude supplies increased last week

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.50% lower at 973.92 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index fell 0.57% to 2,401.64 points.

Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped 0.53% to 4,890.58, while France's CAC 40 index fell 0.33% to 3,668.34 and Germany's DAX index dropped 0.63% to 5,521.97.

Swiss Life, Switzerland's biggest life insurer, sank 7% after the company reported a 91% drop in first-half profit.

WPP, the world's largest advertising company, fell 1.3% after the company reported first-half profit that decreased 48% from last year.

Copper miner Antofagasta dropped 4.8% after the company said its first-half profit fell 70% from last year, as metals prices declined.

Heavily weighted oil stocks edged lower after crude oil prices declined. BP, Europe's biggest oil company, slipped 1%, while Royal/Dutch Shell, the second biggest, fell 0.5% and Total, the third biggest, lost 0.9%.

On the other hand, French utility Suez Environnement climbed 11.5% after the company reported forecast-beating first-half profit.

French bank Natixis jumped 38.8% after the lender received a guarantee from its parent covering about ?35 billion of toxic assets and said it may return to profit in the third quarter.

Alcatel-Lucent, the world's largest telecommunication equipments maker, surged up 11.9% on market talk of a possible bid from a Chinese telecommunication equipments maker.

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