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By Sara Sjolin and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
Shares in major oil companies also finish in the red
European stocks closed lower for the first time in eight sessions on Thursday, weighed down by a slide in shares of heavyweight Nestlé, as well as a retreat for banks and major oil companies.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.4% to end at 370.10, pulling back from a more-than-one-year closing high (http:// www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-stomp-toward-highest-close-since-2015-as-banks-rally-2017-02-15) reached on Wednesday.
Stock markets globally, including in Europe, have rallied in recent days after interest rate-hike signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yellen-says-interest-rate-hikes-can-be-gradual-2017-02-14) and pledges from President Donald Trump to announce a 'massive' tax plan soon (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-says- massive-tax-plan-coming-in-not-too-distant-future-2017-02-15-10915125).
Banks pause for breath: Bank shares in particular have been driven higher, as investors welcomed the prospect of higher interest rates. Higher rates are seen as a positive for lending margins at financial institutions. However, on Thursday the sector took a breather, as the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks Index finished down 0.8%.
Shares of Banco Santander SA (SAN) (SAN) fell 1%, UBS Group AG (UBS) dropped 1.3%, and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK.XE)(DBK.XE) lost 2%.
Other movers: Shares of Nestlé SA (NESN.EB) also weighed on the pan-European index, ending down 1%. The move came after the consumer-products giant said sales slowed in 2016 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nestles-sales-slow-growth- forecast-subdued-2017-02-16), as it forecast subdued growth in 2017.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) (RDSB.LN) lost 2.2% and BP PLC (BP.LN) (BP.LN) slid 2% after both companies went 'ex- dividend.' On the ex-dividend date, new investors in the stock will no longer be entitled to the next round of dividend payouts. The oil giants' drops came as oil prices headed lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-caught-in-a- range-as-higher-us-supply-overshadows-global-cuts-2017-02-16).
Drug maker AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.LN) (AZN.LN) was also trading ex-dividend, helping to send the stock down 0.2%.
Shares of Cobham PLC (COB.LN) sank 15% after the U.K. defense and aerospace supplier warned on profit and said its balance sheet is too weak (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cobham-warns-on-2016-profit-sees-tough-2017-2017-02-16- 44853619).
Schneider Electric SE (SU.FR) lost 4.2% after the power-equipment supplier reported 2016 profit that fell short of forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/schneider-electric-2016-profit-rises-24-2017-02-16).
On an upbeat note, shares of Air France-KLM SA (AF.FR) rallied 13% after the airline said operating profit rose 35% in 2016 on a sharp drop in fuel costs (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/air-france-klm-profit-climbs-on-fuel-cost-drop- 2017-02-16-14855528).
Other airlines tracked Air France higher. Shares of Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA.XE) finished up 2.2%, while British Airway-parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG.LN)(IAG.LN) added 0.6%.
Coca-Cola HBC AG gained 4.9% after the bottling company said profit rose last year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ coca-cola-hbc-2016-profit-up-lifts-dividend-2017-02-16) as it benefited from cost cuts and efficiency improvements.
Economic news: Unemployment in France ticked down to 10% in the fourth quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ french-unemployment-falls-slightly-to-10-2017-02-16), from 10.1% in the previous three-month period. Among people under the age of 25, the jobless rate declined to 23.8% in the fourth quarter, the lowest rate since early 2014.
Minutes from the European Central Bank's January meeting (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ecb-sees-no-room-for- complacency-minutes-show-2017-02-16) revealed that officials saw 'no room for complacency' at their latest policy meeting, agreeing to continue their support for the eurozone's economy to help offset potential political risks. At the Jan. 17 meeting, the ECB kept policy on hold and said it saw no signs of a sustained pickup in inflation (http:// blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2017/01/19/ecb-live-blog-mario-draghi-expected-to-maintain-dovish-course/).
-Sara Sjolin; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
By Carla Mozee and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch. Shares of Barclays finish 2.6% lower, weighing on the FTSE. U.K. stocks slipped Thursday as miners pulled back and Barclays PLC turned lower on concerns over legal issues in the U.S.
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Bank stocks dip after Fed releases minutes. Stock markets across Asia were broadly lower early Thursday, following lackluster performance on Wall Street overnight, as investors digested the latest Federal Reserve meeting minutes. Markets have mostly drifted this week, seeing short-term moves ahead of key events before correcting as the muted impact wanes.
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