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European Shares Slip on Mixed Earnings, Gloomy Economic Data

  • Euro zone business activity contracted in July
  • BMW slumps as it warns of difficult second half
  • Commerzbank sees energy and growth 'clouds' after Q2 profit beat
  • SocGen up after smaller-than-expected loss
  • STOXX down 0.2%

Aug 3 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Wednesday following a slew of mixed earnings from companies, while gloomy business activity data added to fears of an economic slowdown.

The STOXX 600 index slipped 0.2% in morning trade.

The pan-European index fell in the previous session on economic slowdown fears after weak factory data globally and on concerns that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan could escalate tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Data on Wednesday showed business activity in the euro zone contracted slightly in July for the first time since early last year as consumers reined in spending amid a cost-of-living crisis. 

Healthcare stocks such as UK's AstraZeneca and Denmark-based Novo Nordisk A/S weighed on Europe's benchmark index.

"Healthcare has done extremely well over the last couple years. So when you do see times of market stress, some of those top performers tend to come off a bit," said Emma Wall, head of investment analysis and research at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Commerzbank edged up 0.7% on reporting a bigger-than-expected second-quarter net profit, but gains were capped as the German bank's chief executive raised concerns about natural gas supply and gross domestic product development in a call with analysts. 

German banks are at the centre of a geopolitical storm because the country is particularly dependent on Russian energy and its economy will be hit hard by any supply shortages.

Adding to concerns, a survey showed Germany's services sector saw its six-month expansion come to an end in July as higher prices and growing concerns over gas supplies put the brakes on a post-lockdown rebound. 

Luxury carmaker BMW dropped 5.2% after warning of a highly volatile second half. 

Infineon, the leading supplier of microchips to the auto industry, rose 1.7% on lifting its full-year outlook as it posted a 33% year-on-year increase in quarterly revenue.

Many of its global semiconductor peers also bounced back from Tuesday's losses as markets assessed Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, a major chip producer. 

Societe Generale jumped 3.9% as buoyant activity across retail and investment banking helped the French bank report a smaller-than-expected loss in the second quarter.

Britain's competition regulator said it has provisionally cleared cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock's $8.6 billion purchase of rival Avast. London-listed Avast's shares jumped 42.2%.

Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Source: Reuters

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