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Europe midday: Shares pare gains after morning rally; Argenx slumps on trial failure

(Sharecast News) - European shares gave up most of the morning's gains on Wednesday after UK inflation posted a bigger-than-expected fall in November, fuelling hopes of a rate cut by the Bank of England next year, while German producer prices also declined faster than forecast.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 opened up 0.38% at 478.86, with all major bourses higher.

UK inflation slowed more sharply than expected in November to 3.9%, down from 4.6% in October, official data showed Wednesday, adding pressure on the BoE for a cut in rates next year.

Policymakers held the benchmark base rate at 5.25% last week and then set about dampening expectations of any easing, saying monetary policy was likely to tight for an extended period of time.

"Inevitably, speculation that the Bank of England will begin to lower interest rates in the first half of next year is rising. Sterling is falling this morning as its future support looks to be weakening if UK rates are going to be coming down. Gilts are expected to be well bid this morning as the market prices in a more benign inflationary outlook," said Steve Clayton, head of equity funds at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Meanwhile, German producer prices fell more than expected in November, down 7.9% year on year, according to the federal statistics office. Analysts had been looking for a 7.5% decline.

The good news was tempered by data showing construction output in the eurozone fell in October, more or less wiping out the previous month's growth, according to figures released Wednesday by Eurostat.

Production was down 1.0% month-on-month in the single-currency region, after an upwardly revised 0.9% gain in September following the initial estimate of 0.4% growth.

European powerhouses Germany and France saw monthly declines of 2.2% and 2% in production, respectively.

In other economic news, China kept lending rates unchanged as expected, while in Germany a survey showed consumer sentiment should improve in the new year, although concerns about the impact of geopolitical crises and food inflation continue to cause uncertainty.

The GfK/NIM consumer sentiment index rose to -25.1 points heading into January from a revised -27.6 the month before and above expectations of a -27.0 reading.

Income expectations jumped by 9.8 points to -6.9, the highest reading since July . A further study by NIM showed that a third of respondents thought their financial situation would improve because of changes to pensions and because of "previous or future wage/salary increases".

In equity news, shares in Raiffeisen Bank surged after a deal to buy a 28% stake in Austria's Strabag, one of the largest construction companies in Europe, from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in a deal that would work around EU sanctions.

Argenx shares plunged by as much as 35% after the pharmaceutical company said its only medicine was seen to not help patients with a rare skin disorder.

Telefonica gained after the Spanish government said it plans to buy a stake in the carrier worth as much as $2.2bn.

Reporting by Frank Prenesti for

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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