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Europe: Travel stocks fall after France attack, weigh on European shares

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[LONDON] The shares of European travel and leisure companies fell on Friday, weighing on the region's stock markets, after an attack in the French city of Nice that killed more than 80 people.

A gunman at the wheel of a heavy truck ploughed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day late on Thursday, killing at least 84 people and injuring scores more in what French President Francois Hollande called a terrorist act.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index slipped 0.2 per cent, with France's CAC equity index down by 0.3 per cent.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Travel & Leisure index dropped by around 1.2 per cent.

French hotels operator Accor, Europe's largest hotel group, fell 3 per cent, while shares in airlines such as Air France-KLM, easyJet and Thomas Cook dropped by between 1.6 and 4.2 per cent.

"Recent experience suggests the initial sell-off will be short-lived but the potential damage to traveller confidence is a clear negative for affected firms," said Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets.

"This is especially true in France where there is already concern that the drop in Sterling will impact tourism from the UK."

Another Paris-based analyst said the attack in Nice would deal a new blow to French hotels and tourism companies, which had only just started to recover after Islamist militant attacks in Paris on Nov 13, 2015, which killed 130 people.

"Hotels and restaurants have barely recovered from a difficult period. This is a new blow, especially in summer,"said the analyst, who declined to be named.

Shares in Swiss luxury goods companies Swatch and Richemont also slumped after Swatch issued a profit warning.

Swatch shares tumbled 7.8 per cent while Richemont shares fell 3.1 per cent.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index is down by around 7 per cent this year.