June 14, 2018 / 7:35 AM / 8 days ago

European shares open lower before ECB meeting

MILAN, June 14 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Thursday in cautious trade after the U.S. Fed sounded slightly hawkish overnight and ahead of an ECB meeting in which the central bank will debate the end of its huge asset purchases.

All sectors traded in negative territory with basic resources stocks, down 1.3 percent, leading the fall following weaker data from big metals consumer China.

By 0715 GMT, the pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.6 percent, while Britain’s FTSE was down 0.6 percent and Germany’s DAX fell 0.5 percent.

The European Central Bank will debate whether to end its huge asset purchases by year-end, in what would be its biggest step towards dismantling crisis-era stimulus credited with pulling the euro zone economy out of recession.

Bucking the broader weakness were shares in heavyweight drugmaker GSK, up 1 percent. Investors welcomed news that its two-drug treatment for HIV met its main goal in late stage studies - a big win after regulators warned of possible birth defects from one of the two drugs.

Rolls-Royce was another bright spot, up 3.2 percent, after saying it would save 400 million pounds a year by cutting 4,600 jobs in its latest attempt to simplify the business and generate more cash.

On the DAX, Volkswagen fell 0.9 percent after the carmaker was fined one billion euros over diesel emissions cheating.

Still in Germany, leasing company Grenke announced a cash capital increase of up to 200 million euros. Its shares were among the leading losers on the STOXX, down 4.5 percent. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Editing by Helen Reid)

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