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Europe: Big oil helps shares edge up

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[LONDON] European shares, stuck just below 21-month highs for more than a week, fought for direction in early deals on Wednesday as weakness in mining and autos sectors were offset by strength in oil producers.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index edged up 0.1 per cent, underpinned by a rise in European oil & gas stocks . Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 per cent while Germany's DAX fell 0.3 per cent as firms going ex-dividend weighed.

European auto stocks were among the biggest sectoral fallers, down 0.9 per cent and led lower by a 2 per cent drop in Fiat Chrysler's shares.

The US government has sued the Italian carmaker, accusing Fiat of illegally using software to bypass emission controls in 104,000 diesel vehicles sold since 2014.

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Miners were another weak spot in Europe with the basic resources index declining more than 1 per cent following a dip in the copper price weighed.

Mining giant Glencore was also 1.6 per cent lower after it said that it had made an informal approach to USgrains trader Bunge to discuss "a possible consensual business combination".

Earnings also weighed on British retailer Kingfisher , which dropped 6.3 percent and was the biggest STOXX loser after a trading update, while engineer Babcock also fell 2.7 per cent after its full-year results.

German firms Hugo Boss and Evonik both fell after going ex-dividend.

On the positive side, a well-received set of fourth-quarter results from Dixons Carphone lifted its shares 3 per cent higher, while Britvic's first-half update also boosted its shares.

Shares in aerospace groups Safran and Zodiac , whose merger plans have been criticized by some investors, were suspended on Wednesday.