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Europe: Shares led down by Dialog and BHP; Athens outperforms

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[LONDON] European stocks fell on Wednesday, with Dialog Semiconductor slumping after it cut its revenue outlook and BHP Billiton hit by news of a lawsuit filed against it in Brazil.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index shed 1.2 per cent to 1,302.72 points, its lowest closing level in nearly four weeks. It lost 1.7 per cent on Tuesday.

"We may have the odd move higher, but we remain in a longer-term bear market," said Andreas Clenow, chief investment officer of Zurich-based ACIES Asset Management.

However, Greek stocks bucked the trend, gaining 1.1 per cent after Morgan Stanley turned bullish on the country's government debt and upgraded four banks to outperform amid hopes for a positive conclusion to its bailout review.

Dialog slumped 8.6 per cent after the maker of chips used in Apple and Samsung Electronics smartphones cut its revenue outlook and reported a 58 per cent drop in underlying operating profit.

DZ Bank analyst Harald Schnitzer said that, although the revision was not a surprise, "uncertainty surrounding (Dialog's) future performance is growing".

Mining stocks were pressured by weak copper prices.

BHP lagged its peers, shedding 5.8 per cent after federal prosecutors in Brazil filed a 155 billion real (S$59.1 billion) civil lawsuit against iron miner Samarco and its owners, Vale and BHP, over the collapse of a dam last November.

One reason for the fall in metals prices has been persistent concerns about a slowdown in China, the world's second-largest economy and the leading global consumer of metals.

"The deflationary pressures remain and it's hard to see markets making much headway at the moment," said Berkeley Futures associate director, Richard Griffiths.

Among bank stocks, Societe Generale rose 1.7 per cent after pledging more cost cuts this year and unveiling a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

AP Moller-Maersk rose 6.4 per cent after the Danish shipping and oil group reported a first-quarter net profit above forecasts.

REUTERS