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Europe: Equities end steady, miners underpin market

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[LONDON] European shares steadied on Wednesday, with basic resources companies underpinning the broader market following a rise in metals prices.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended down 0.07 per cent, after rising in the previous two sessions.

The European basic resources index rose 1.3 per cent after hitting its highest level since mid-2015 after base as precious metals prices advanced. Shares in BHP Billiton, and Rio Tinto rose 2.1 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

"Longer term, the 'New Trump' reality of higher growth through fiscal stimulus and infrastructure work certainly warrants higher commodities and stock prices," said Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis. "However, in the short run, miners, just like the overall market, are clearly ahead of themselves and a small period of consolidation would be healthy for the sector."

The European mining sector has surged more than 12 per cent this month alone, taking total gains for this year to 60 per cent, on growing expectations that US President-elect Donald Trump's pledge to invest heavily in infrastructure projects will enhance demand for raw materials.

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UK Housebuilders were volatile after finance minister Philip Hammond unveiled plans to raise housing and infrastructure spending in the biggest economic update since Britain voted in June to leave the European Union.

After initially surging on the spending plans, sectors shares tuned lower. Barratt Developments fell 1.9 per cent, while Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey both dropped over 1.5 per cent.

Analysts said the early gain was not sustained as the extra funding had been anticipated. There was also a lack of detail about how the new housing would be delivered, and the sector was also caught up in poor global market sentiment.

CNH CNHI.MI rose 6 per cent, making it the biggest gainer on the STOXX. The truck and tractor maker was buoyed by a well-received earnings update from U.S. rival Deere & Co.

Generali were among the biggest losers, down 3 per cent, after the insurer reiterated 2018 targets and said it aimed to cut operating costs. Some analysts expressed concern at the insurer's dividends.

Elsewhere, British travel company Thomas Cook rose more than 7 per cent after saying it was on track to grow in its current financial year. It has seen an encouraging start to bookings for next summer and is benefiting from a turnaround plan for its German airline Condor.


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