[MILAN] European shares fell slightly on Thursday, with banking stocks leading the way after disappointing updates from Deutsche Bank and Barclays, while investors assessed the negative impact of a US rate hike by year-end.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended down 0.04 per cent, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.23 per cent.
The US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but left the door open to a rate hike in December, playing down recent turmoil in global financial markets. "European investors are taking profit on risky assets as they start to gauge the end-effect of a rate increase," JCI Capital analyst Emanuele Rigamonti said.
Shares in Deutsche Bank fell 6.8 percent after Germany's biggest lender warned of two tough years of dividend cuts, pay restraint and thousands of job cuts. "Deutsche Bank is cutting its dividend and the story for the banking sector as a whole is that they are going to struggle to get back to their earlier levels of profitability, given the amount of regulation going on," Clairinvest fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu said.
British bank Barclays dropped 6.3 per cent following a 10-per cent drop in quarterly profits. Saint-Gobain fell 4.9 per cent after saying its results were hit by a contraction in France.
Mining stocks fell 1.9 per cent, the biggest decline in Europe, as metals prices extended losses. BHP Billiton , Glencore and Anglo American were all down more than 4 per cent.
But there were strong gains in the TMT sector.
The network equipment maker Nokia surged 10 per cent after reporting stronger-than-expected quarterly profits as growth in China offset weaker demand in other key markets.
Nokia said it would return money to shareholders after acquiring Alcatel-Lucent which also rose, by 10 per cent, as its profitability improved even though it posted a net loss in the third quarter.
Telecom Italia soared 8.7 per cent after French tycoon Xavier Niel built a minority stake, setting up a potential power struggle with largest shareholder Vivendi over the Italian phone group's future.
Danone rose 1.5 per cent after China said it would ease family planning restrictions to allow couples to have two children. The company is one of the world's largest manufacturers of baby food and formula milk.