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European shares dip as skepticism looms on recovery

Publicis, WPP rise as Unilever threatens online ad cuts.

European shares fell slightly on Tuesday as a flurry of corporate results failed to lift indexes and Wall Street pulled back ahead of Wednesday’s crucial data on US inflation.

The pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark index fell 0.6% but remained above the near six-month low hit earlier this month, while the S&P 500 in the United States fell slightly following two days of gains.

A strong reading on US consumer prices could revive concerns over inflation and faster interest rate hikes – the same worries that sparked last week’s sell-off in global equities.

“We are yet to build consensus around this rally and it could run into trouble if conviction is lacking,” said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

A flurry of corporate results yielded both positive and negative reactions on European trading floors.

The telecoms sector led sectoral fallers in Europe after Telenet reported 2017 results. The Belgian operator fell more than 5.5%, the worst performer on the STOXX.

Shares in Gucci owner Kering slid 3.9% despite the luxury group reporting stronger-than-expected Q4 sales growth. Traders said Kering’s comments on the euro hurt sentiment.

Rival LVMH lost 1.8%.

Smelter Aurubis fell 8% after its results fell short of the average forecast in a Reuters poll.

On the other hand, shares in French video game producer Ubisoft rose 6.1% after a trading update which took it to the top of the STOXX 600.

Randstad, the world’s second-largest staffing company and a bellwether for the economy, saw fourth-quarter core profit rise 15%, buoyed by a strong recovery in the European job markets. Its shares gained 2%.

European travel group TUI rose 1.2% after reporting that summer bookings for Turkey were recovering, echoing comments by rival Thomas Cook and adding to hopes that pressure on margins for tour operators may ease.

Advertising agencies Publicis and WPP both rose more than 3.5%.

Traders said their stocks were supported by news that Unilever had threatened to pull investment from digital platforms such as Facebook and Google that “create division” in society or fail to protect children. 

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