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European shares hit 11-week low after ECB minutes; Reckitt, Sodexo weigh
July 6, 2017 / 12:22 PM / in 19 days

European shares hit 11-week low after ECB minutes; Reckitt, Sodexo weigh

3 Min Read

* Pan-European index down 1.1 percent

* All sectors negative after ECB minutes

* Reckitt, Sodexo fall after outlook cut

* But Primark owner gains after update (Adds detail, updates prices)

By Danilo Masoni and Kit Rees

LONDON/MILAN, July 6 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Thursday to their lowest in 11 weeks after minutes from the ECB'S latest meeting showed the central bank had left the door open to scrapping its bond-buying pledge.

The pan-European STOXX 600 had fallen 1.1 percent by 1204 GMT, with all sectors trading in negative territory after the minutes. Euro zone blue chips also hit an 11-week low, while Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.8 percent.

"There was nothing in the (June ECB) press conference that suggested that they talked about curtailing QE. But in fact they did," said AFS analyst Arne Petimezas in Amsterdam.

A series of earnings updates also grabbed the focus with Reckitt Benckiser and Sodexo leading fallers after both companies cut their guidance.

Reckitt was down 2 percent, making it one of the biggest weights on the STOXX. The UK consumer goods group cut its growth forecast after a global cyber attack last month disrupted business in multiple markets.

"We would not see weakness in the share price today as a buying opportunity. Reckitt's markets are likely to have remained sluggish, with peers signalling no pick up here," Investec said, cutting its price target on the stock.

Sodexo, the world's second-biggest catering services firm after Compass Group, also cut its sales growth goal after weaker-than-expected third quarter results, sending its stock down 5.6 percent to a 14-week low.

Compass shares were down 1.7 percent.

Some earning updates struck a more positive note.

Associated British Foods rose 2.6 percent, among top gainers in Europe, after the company said its full-year outlook had marginally improved after a better-than-expected performance from its Primark clothing chain.

"The key divisional figure in this statement, as has become the norm with ABF, is Primark sales growth," Morgan Stanley said.

In the banking sector, Commerzbank was the biggest gainer, up 3.3 percent after a Bloomberg report said that buy-out firm Cerberus was considering buying a minority stake in the German lender through purchases on the market.

The broader banking sector, recently underpinned by talk of tightening monetary policy conditions, was just 0.4 percent lower following the ECB minutes.

Stocks sensitive to a rise in interest rates, such as utilities, continue to weigh, with the sector down 1.3 percent.

Meanwhile Italian banks rose 0.3 percent, continuing to outperform after a series of deals in the last two weeks that have restored confidence in the sector's prospects.

Italy's economy minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, said there were no more "brushfires" threatening other banks after the government wound down two Veneto-based lenders last month in a deal that could cost the state up to 17 billion euros.

Live coverage of European markets: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Kit Rees; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Mark Potter

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