Mixed sales updates, Ukraine crisis cap European shares

LONDON, April 15 Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:11am EDT

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - European equity indexes opened broadly flat on Tuesday as the threat of costly sanctions against Russia and mixed sales updates from bellwether consumer groups such as L'Oreal and SABMiller capped appetite for shares.

At 0707 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.1 percent at 1,321.01 points. Blue-chip indexes in Britain, Germany and France were between flat and 0.1 percent higher.

Shares in brewer SABMiller fell 2.4 percent to feature among the top FTSEurofirst fallers after its full-year sales update, with analysts at Oriel Securities flagging net producer revenue slightly beneath expectations.

French cosmetics group L'Oreal and foods giant Nestle's both undershot market expectations with their first-quarter sales but pledged they would return to top-line growth in the coming quarters.

Shares in L'Oreal, which had risen nearly 10 percent in the previous month, gained 1 percent while Nestle inched up 0.2 percent.

European foreign ministers agreed to step up sanctions against Russia and U.S. officials have said they were in consultations with European partners on how to punish Moscow for what Kiev and its Western allies call a Russian plot to dismember Ukraine.

"If there is any sort of announcement that there are going to be further curbs from the West, we'd expect the market to drop off again," Stuart McDonald, a sales trader at IG, said. (Reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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