* STOXX down 0.3 pct, set for 0.6 percent weekly loss
* Insurers lead fallers, chemicals supported by Syngenta
* Credit Suisse up as unit IPO preparations continue
* UK engineer Smiths up after results, but Bollore down
(Adds details, updates prices)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 24 European shares fell slightly on
Friday with eyes still on a vote on U.S. President Donald
Trump's healthcare bill which has been delayed to later in the
The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.3 percent,
set for a weekly fall of around 0.6 percent, while the UK'S FTSE
and Germany's DAX both fell 0.1 percent.
Traders said markets could react negatively if the bill is
rejected, although worries had somewhat eased.
"An eventual failure could let down investors," said LCG
analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya. "Yet it is worth noting that the
major market focus is still on the fiscal plans and the Trump
administration could carry on with its expansive fiscal plans
regardless of a disappointment on the healthcare bill."
As caution ahead of the vote prevailed, data on Friday
showing that euro zone businesses grew at their fastest pace in
nearly six years in the first quarter had little impact on
The insurance index fell 0.8 percent, the heaviest
fall by sector, weighed down by a 3.8 percent drop in Dutch
insurer Aegon. Meanwhile the chemical index
gained 0.4 percent, underpinned by Syngenta which rose
after Reuters reported that EU antitrust regulators were set to
clear ChemChina's $43 billion bid for the Swiss company next
Credit Suisse rose 0.6 percent after Switzerland's
second-biggest bank released its annual report and shareholder
meeting agenda, which contained no indication of plans to carry
out a share sale that could raise 3 billion Swiss francs.
Sources close to the matter said that Credit Suisse was
considering a quickfire share sale rather than pursuing a
separate listing for its Swiss banking unit, but on Friday the
bank said preparations for the IPO were continuing.
Smiths Group was among the biggest STOXX gainers,
up 3.2 percent, after the British engineer stuck to its
full-year outlook as growth in its detection unit helped boost
Credit Suisse described the results as very strong and said
it continued "to favour Smiths' investment story driven by
portfolio rationalisation and investment in growth."
A top faller was France's Bollore, down 4.4
percent, after the holding company of financier Vincent Bollore
swung to an annual net loss and said it would buy out electrical
components maker Blue Solutions.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; editing by Richard Lough)