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Europe: Shares open lower

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[LONDON] Weakness among financial and retail stocks sent European shares down again on Wednesday, as a profit warning sent Provident Financial sharply down.

Europe's STOXX 600 fell 0.6 per cent, extending the previous session's losses, while euro zone stocks fell more sharply, down 0.8 per cent along with the bloc's blue chips.

Financial services, insurance and banking stocks were among the worst-performing sectors, punished by heavy losses from British subprime lender Provident Financial.

Provident plummeted 20 per cent after warning on profit, saying operational disruption from the reorganisation of its home credit division would weigh for the rest of the financial year.

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Banks were among the top fallers on France's CAC 40 and GErmany's DAX.

Gains from Whitbread and Centrica, however, helped the FTSE 100 outperform peers despite Provident's fall.

Costa Coffee owner Whitbread was the best performer, up 5.1 per cent after reporting first-quarter sales rose 7.6 per cent. It spurred the European travel and leisure sector to gain 0.2 per cent.

Energy firm Centrica also rose after selling its two biggest gas plants to a subsidiary of Czech energy company EPH.

European retail stocks were also weighed by Belgian food retailer Colruyt falling 4.8 per cent after its full-year results.

REUTERS

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