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Europe: Stocks retreat as miners slide, German data disappoint

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[FRANKFURT] European shares declined for a third day as energy and commodity producers slid, while investors assessed growth prospects following worse-than-expected German business- confidence data.

Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd fell at least 5.8 per cent, leading miners to the biggest decline of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as base metals retreated.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc lost 2.2 per cent, dragging oil companies lower as crude slid. Royal Philips NV dropped 4.3 per cent after saying it is considering an initial public offering of its lighting business.

The Stoxx 600 slipped 0.5 per cent to 346.68 at the close of trading, paring earlier declines of as much as 0.9 per cent. Germany's benchmark DAX Index slid 0.8 per cent after a report showed business confidence in Europe's biggest economy unexpectedly deteriorated in April.

"Whether you pin it on oil, or earnings or company-specific news, it doesn't really matter," said Frances Hudson, an Edinburgh-based global thematic strategist at Standard Life Investments, which oversees about US$393 billion.

"If you were to put all the headlines that are out there in front of you, there aren't any positive ones. Expectations are quite low for economic progress in terms of the data coming out this week."

European shares surged 16 per cent from a February low to an April 20 peak as commodity and energy producers rallied. The gains came even as analysts slashed their profit estimates for the region's companies.

They now predict an earnings decline in 2016 for Stoxx 600 firms, reversing calls for growth at the start of the year.

As well as earnings, investors will look to data including consumer prices and growth this week for signs of the health of the euro-area economy and the efficacy of European Central Bank stimulus measures.

Among stocks moving on corporate news, Electricite de France SA tumbled 11 per cent, the most since at least 2005, after announcing plans to sell about 4 billion euros (S$6.08 billion) of new shares and deepen cost cuts.

BLOOMBERG