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European shares retreat as Erste leads down bank stocks

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[LONDON] European shares fell on Wednesday, retreating after two straight days of gains, as a drop in Austrian bank Erste knocked back financial stocks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 and FTSEurofirst 300 indexes both fell 0.4 per cent, after having risen for the last two days.

Erste fell 3.9 per cent, after insurance company Uniqa said late on Tuesday that it would sell around 17.4 million Erste shares.

The shares of payment systems company Ingenico also fell 4.8 per cent, impacted by a slump in its rival VeriFone after VeriFone posted lower-than-expected earnings.

However, Sainsbury rose 2.6 per cent after the British supermarket operator's first-quarter sales beat market forecasts, even though Sainsbury warned that it expected market conditions to remain tough.