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European shares slip from highs as results, commodities weigh

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[LONDON] European shares dipped on Tuesday, falling from a four-month peak as weakness among commodities stocks outweighed gains spurred by results from companies including food group Danone and education firm Pearson.

Credit Suisse was also in the spotlight with its shares rising 1.2 per cent on reports that activist investor RBR Capital has launched a campaign to break up the Swiss investment bank after building up a small stake in it.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended the session 0.3 per cent lower, weighed down by a dip in basic resources and energy shares, while euro zone blue chips were flat.

UK's FTSE ended 0.1 per cent lower following comments by Bank of England policymakers which were taken as dovish by market participants, while Spain's IBEX regained some ground with a 0.4 per cent gain.

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Results drove individual share price moves, with Danone hitting a fresh record high after the world's largest yoghurt maker posted a better-than-expected 4.7 per cent rise in underlying third-quarter sales, helped by a strong recovery in demand for infant milk formula and water products in China.

"The third quarter brings back momentum to the investment case; this was anticipated to a certain degree but the boost from Early Life Nutrition (market) in China is clearly higher than thought," Baader Helvea analyst Andreas von Arx, who has a neutral rating on the stock, said in a note.

Danone rose as much as 2.4 per cent before paring some gains.

Pearson soared 7.3 per cent after predicting full-year operating profit in the top half of its forecast range, in the first positive trading news for the British education group in recent years.

Some results on Tuesday, however, disappointed.

Merlin Entertainments slumped around 16 per cent, its biggest one-day loss.

The operator of tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds waxworks reported a dip in trading in its key summer region, blaming a series of attacks in the UK and unfavourable weather.

Sartorius fell 7.6 per cent. The lab equipment maker cut its 2017 profit and sales after destocking by some customers and a temporary freeze of deliveries from Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria.

According to the latest Thomson Reuters Lipper report, third-quarter earnings for the Stoxx 600 companies are expected to increase 5.3 per cent from a year earlier. That compares to the 4.1 per cent growth expected for the S&P 500.

Elsewhere, Airbus rose 4.8 per cent after agreeing to buy a majority stake in Bombardier's CSeries jetliner programme. The deal would come at no cost for Airbus.

"Airbus' move is sensible and the downside is limited," analysts at UBS said in a note.

REUTERS

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