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Europe Shares Slip, Miners Weigh; Investors Assess Wage Data

  • Barclays plans cost cuts, bumper buybacks
  • Air Liquide tops profit forecast, shares rise
  • Bayer slashes dividend to tackle debt burden
  • Q4 wage deals data due at 1000 GMT

Feb 20 (Reuters) - European shares slipped on Tuesday as metal and mining stocks fell after a cut in China's mortgage rate failed to impress markets, while investors assessed key eurozone wage data.

The pan-European STOXX 600 dipped 0.2%, led by a 1.5% loss in the basic resources index as copper prices dropped and a deeper-than-expected mortgage rate cut out of China piled onto uncertainty about the top-consumer's ailing property sector.

China-exposed luxury stocks also dipped 0.1%. The technology sector, which has been one of the top gainers this year, also declined more than 1% by 0941 GMT.

"This sharper-than-expected cut hasn't shored up confidence. Instead, it's concentrated concerns about the economy," said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets, Hargreaves Lansdown.

"It's a concern because ... a large chunk of European-listed companies are highly attuned to what happens in China."

Closer to home, the much-awaited data on eurozone fourth-quarter 2023 negotiated wages showed an reading of 4.46%, down from a record high of 4.69% in the third quarter. The data is seen as an important variable in determining the timing of the ECB's (European Central Bank) interest rate cuts.

The main STOXX index closed at a two-year high in the previous session and is nearing an all-time high, supported by upbeat earnings from industry heavyweights and expectations of more than four rate cuts this year.

Air Liquide shares jumped 5.9% to a record high, driving a 1.6% gain in the broader chemicals sector, after the French industrial gases firm posted a better-than-expected FY operating profit and said it had already reached its 2025 margin targets.

Barclays shares added 4.2% after the UK lender set out a welter of plans including buybacks, an overhaul of its operations, cost cuts and asset sales to improve performance and lift shares.

OC Oerlikon rose 5.6% after the Swiss industrial firm said it is exploring options to separate its fibre-making polymer business to focus on metal coatings.

Drugmaker Sandoz Group lost 3.0% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to "equal weight" from "overweight".

Bayer AG's shares inched up 0.2% in volatile trading after the German drugmaker said it would slash its dividend over the next three years to reduce its debt.

Reporting by Khushi Singh, Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

Source: Reuters

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