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Banks hurt by Brexit decision pull European shares lower

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[LONDON] European stocks fell on Wednesday, led lower by major banks and other financial stocks as worries persist about the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The pan-European STOXX 600 and the similar FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively, both striking a third day of losses in a row.

The STOXX Europe 600 banks index fell 2.6 per cent to its lowest closing level since November 2011, with Caixabank down 1.6 per cent after Spanish lender warned it expected a 1.25 billion euro hit related to mortgage clauses.

Shares in Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse touched record lows, as investors fret over the likely impact of Britain's June 23 vote to leave the EU on the European economy and its banks.

Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, head of multi asset at NN Investment Partners, expected euro zone shares to underperform US stocks for some time to come given this weak economic backdrop for Europe.

"It is unlikely that European equities will outperform US equities as long as the political uncertainty lingers and the impact on the real economy cannot be assessed. This could be a prolonged period," said Mr van Nieuwenhuijzen.

"The downward revision in economic growth and earnings will prevent cyclical sectors from outperforming, especially those linked to European corporate investments, and consumer spending also looks vulnerable."

The auto sector index fell 0.8 per cent after touching a three-year low on worries about Brexit's effects on the European economy.

"Brexit's growth scare has overturned the underlying investor optimism on European growth, highlighting the risk of sharper European auto sales slowdown," said JCI Capital analyst Emanuele Rigamonti. He added that an increase in the cost of debt seen after the shock UK vote outcome could have a sizable negative impact on the sector's profitability.

Telecom Italia shares fell 11 per cent, leading losers on the FTSEurofirst 300, after French rival Iliad said it was entering the Italian mobile market.

Property stocks bore the brunt of investors' concerns over Brexit, with the STOXX Europe 600 Real Estate index down 2.2 per cent, after M&G suspended trading in its 4.4 billion pound UK property portfolio and feeder fund.

M&G's move comes after Standard Life took similar measures earlier in the week.

"There was always a strong chance that once the Standard Life domino fell others would follow, just as in the financial crisis of 2008. And, as then, it is hard not imagine a fall in commercial property values this time," said ETX Capital chief executive Andrew Edwards.


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