European stocks slip lower in cautious trade; Dax down 0.18%

European stocks slipped lower on Tuesday, as investors remained cautious amid ongoing tensions in Crimea and as first-quarter earnings season was set to begin later in the day.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.05%, France’s CAC 40 eased 0.03%, while Germany’s DAX slipped 0.18%.

Markets were jittery after Reuters reported on Monday that a Russian soldier had shot dead a Ukrainian naval officer in Crimea.

This came after a pro-Russian protest in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, where demonstrators stormed government buildings in several major cities.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PAR) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) slipped 0.15% and 0.56%, although Germany's Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) inched up 0.06%

Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) fell 0.19%, while Spanish banks BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) and Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) lost 0.01% and 0.31%.

On the upside, Nordea Bank (NDA.COP) climbed 0.43% after Chairman Bjoern Wahlroos said it will increase dividends.

In London, FTSE 100 fell 0.23%, weighed by Sports Direct, down 5.18%, after sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley sold £200 million worth of the company's shares.

Meanwhile, mining stocks were broadly higher. Shares in Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LSE) gained 0.49% and Antofagasta (ANTO.LSE) jumped 1.29%, while Rio Tinto (RIO.LSE) and Fresnillo (FRES.LSE) surged 1.78% and 1.82% respectively.

In the financial sector, stocks were also mostly lower. Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) shed 0.34% and Barclays (BARC.LSE) declined 0.68%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) dropped 0.74%. HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) overperformed on the other hand, up 0.09%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a moderately higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.10% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.12% increase, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.10% gain.