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Global stock markets bolstered by solid US corporate earnings, home sales

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LONDON — Markets were steady Wednesday as the focus turned toward U.S. corporate earnings and as tensions between Russia and the West over the downing of a Malaysian jetliner in Ukraine eased.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed flat at 6,798.15 while Germany's DAX added 0.2 percent to 9,753.56. France's CAC 40 also advanced 0.2 percent to 4,376.32.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.1 percent at 17,101 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 1,989.

Markets have been volatile over the past week, partly because of heightened tensions between Russia and the West after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

PHOTO: A man speaks on a mobile phone in front of an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Asian shares rose Tuesday as tensions over the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine eased after pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the aircraft's black boxes. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index added 0.8 percent to 15,343.28 as trading resumed after Monday's public holiday. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
A man speaks on a mobile phone in front of an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Asian shares rose Tuesday as tensions over the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine eased after pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the aircraft's black boxes. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index added 0.8 percent to 15,343.28 as trading resumed after Monday's public holiday. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

However, over the past couple of days there have been signs of more cooperation in the investigation of the crash. On Wednesday, the first bodies finally arrived in the Netherlands, the country that bore the heaviest toll in the crash that killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Earnings are slowly becoming more of a focus of attention. Among the features was Apple, whose stock spiked 1 percent after the company topped analysts' estimates in an after-hours statement Tuesday. However, appliance maker Whirlpool fell 5 percent after its earnings came in well short of expectations.

"So far over 70 percent of U.S. companies that have posted figures have beaten expectations, and any worries the market might have had that earnings multiples looked unsustainable are being eased," said Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG.

Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished 0.8 percent higher at 23,971.87 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6 percent to 5,576.70. Stocks in mainland China and Southeast Asia also closed higher but Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.1 percent to 15,328.56.

Elsewhere in financial markets, the mood was subdued with the euro flat at $1.3468 and the dollar steady at 101.48 yen.

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PHOTO: A man watches an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Asian shares rose Tuesday as tensions over the downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine eased after pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the aircraft's black boxes. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index added 0.8 percent to 15,343.28 as trading resumed after Monday's public holiday. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
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